Mother and son make marathon effort to say '˜thank you'

Marathon mum Jan Barnes has now completed runs with both her son and daughter.

Jan Barnes and son Ben with the medals at the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon on Sunday GNnvx_-H5eRWfhSGMnXX
Jan Barnes and son Ben with the medals at the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon on Sunday GNnvx_-H5eRWfhSGMnXX

She and Ben, 42, took part in the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon on Sunday to raise money for the charity Smile4Wessex.

It was Jan’s 29th marathon and her son agreed to travel at her pace, following in the footsteps of his sister, Becca, 46, who did the midnight MoonWalk in London with their mother.

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Jan, 69, of Garland Close, Chichester, said: “Ben’s challenge was to keep warm and nudge me along. My 29th marathon and a cause to say thank you and good luck to this mum who is so proud of her son.”

It was a tough day as both were struggling with illness and Jan admitted even starting was risky.

“Ben was going down with the throat cold that’s hitting everyone and I am coming through it. Common sense says we should have cancelled but we wanted to complete the cause and we had found it difficult to get a date when a marathon could be done together.

“If the head ruled the heart, we should have tucked up with hot water bottles, honey and hot lemon drinks,” she said.

“Ben was feeling decidedly shivery with a tickly throat and I had the remains of throaty cough, knowing care was needed.

“Dressed for the occasion, we agreed we would consult with the medics and decide.”

Determination won through and the pair completed the marathon through the streets of Trafford and proudly accepted their medals.

Jan said: “It was a really frosty start to the day but the sun was promising. ‘Go for it’ was our thought - the sun providing an incentive.

“Caution was foremost in our minds. The run and power walk for eight miles became a power walk with throats saying ‘ouch’!

“Five hours looked a possibility but at 22 miles, Ben was feeling queasy, so our power walk was steady and reduced to a sensible walk from 24 miles onwards.

“With super crowd encouragement and the finish in sight, our 50 yards dash together was a fitting end to the occasion.”

The pair said the marathon was not quite as flat as they had expected but there were spurred on by three lovely choral groups en route and great toddlers shouting for high fives as they passed.

At the end, baggage reclaim took nearly an hour, so with rising winds, the foil blankets provided became crucial to keep them warm.

“A welcome shower later almost restored our perspectives,” added Jan.

“We were both very sensible. We were walking okay on Monday morning but Ben spent to days in bed, just shattered with the bug.

“A big tick for a marathon done together, so now son and daughter have completed a marathon with me. Hubby should be next but not a chance, though he is a keen sportsman!”

Jan and her son Ben, from Birdham, were raising money for the charity Smile for Wessex, which supports the work of the Wessex Neurological Centre.

They wanted to support a Havant College student whose mum has been diagnosed with a brain tumour and said the charity ‘does great things’ to help patients and families in such a situation.

In November, Jan’s grandson James had a life-threatening accident at the college when a window shattered and severed an artery in his writing arm.

James, 17, is the son of Becca, from Fishbourne.

Jan explained what happened: “He was in a lecture in the sports area. There was a bit too much chat and he was sent outside for time out. Instead of pushing the wood in the door, he pushed the glass. The door was free to open but the glass shattered. It was one of those freak accidents.

“Two students in the class saw the blood and went into action. Thanks to their swift response and a brilliant surgeon, James is making good progress to regain all movements and feelings in his fingers. He has been fantastic, I cannot praise him enough.

“Recently, the mother of one student has been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Treatment is underway to try to shrink it and, hopefully, enable an operation in the future.”

Smile4Wessex raises funds for projects that improve the quality of care and range of treatments offered to patients, improve the quality of facilities and further research into neurological conditions that will have a direct bearing on patient care, or further the understanding of such conditions and their future treatment.

The charity’s motto is ‘you smile, we smile, they smile’ and it has the same approach to fundraising.

Already one of the most highly-regarded neurological centres in the UK, the Wessex Neurological Centre in Southampton provides acute and specialist neurological care to patients from across West Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands . Brain tumour, brain injury,stroke, Alzheimer’s, epilepsy, spinal injury, brain haemorrhage, hydrocephalus, Motor Neurone Disease, sleep disorders and dementia are just a few of the conditions that are treated at the centre.

Visit for more information on the run or to make a donation.

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