Story: Lydia Flanagan | Photo:Anwar Suliman
Pauline Agatha Neita has just finished the 2012 London Marathon, one of the seven charity runs she plans to take part in to celebrate the Olympic year.
Back in 2003, the Messenger reported on local resident Pauline finishing her first charity race, the 5K in Birmingham, at the age of 40. Nine years later, Pauline is still running many charity races with her sisters Kathleen and Annette, including Sport Relief, Race for Life, Sheffield Half Marathon, the Great North Run, Yorkshire Run and the festive Santa Jog.
Pauline’s motivation for running comes from her pleasure in taking part. The atmosphere created by supporters, which she describes as ‘phenomenal’, is enough to keep her running the 26.2 miles to the finish line! 26.2 miles may sound a little daunting and just a time challenge for the super fit, but as Pauline said, “it’s all about fun, not finishing first!” She’d encourage anyone to take part in any charity run and as she’s demonstrated, you may never turn back.
“If I was at school and the teacher said to me ‘would you like to do a marathon’? I would have said ‘no’. I’m a sporty person, but me do a London marathon? I would have been thinking in terms of how far, not thinking how fun it’s going to be!”
Once Pauline starts, she aims to finish and did so by running at her own pace, jogging and power walking. There was no intense training either, just a lot of walking and Zumba once a week.
“It keeps me fit and I'm achieving my goal when I complete the race. Once I start I aim to finish”
As part of running the London marathon, there’s a compulsory target, which changes according to the charity, however the lowest target can still be a mighty £1500 which can put people off. But the thrilling atmosphere, the sense of achievement in finishing a marathon and raising a significant amount of money for charity, is well worth all the effort.
Pauline’s fundraising came from family, friends, people in the local area and schools. Though she met her target, it was a lot of work. The charity she was running for was Interactive Disability Equality in Sport, which helps disabled people get more involved in sports and enables them to have a more active lifestyle. She’s not put off by fundraising though. She’d do it all again but perhaps not every year, as she’d wish to, unless there was a generous sponsor. Pauline would like to thank everyone who has sponsored her over the years.