Nick Votta died of a heart attack in June, leaving behind Sam, his partner for 35 years, and their two boys, Matthew and Robbie. The Worthing-based female running club wanted to show Sam some support and celebrate the life of Nick, who was community minded and volunteered at 1st Findon Valley Scout Group.
Julia Griggs, club coach and founder, explained: “We wanted to do something that celebrated his life and love for the countryside but that would also benefit the community, so set about organising the Cissbury Ring Marathon Relay in his memory and with the aim of raising money for a defibrillator to be accessible in the local area. Foxy Ladies Running club is one of the most supportive clubs around, more like a big family, so when something tragic happens to one of our members we all pull together to help them in any way we can. Nick loved walking up Cissbury with his family and their foster dogs and, of course, the Scouts.”
Members were asked to take part in teams of eight and to pay an entrance fee per person. Julia said: “We were overwhelmed with the response and received a whopping attendance of 19 teams. With permission given from the National Trust to run through the ring and along the inside, we mapped out a route that was 1.2 miles, which meant 22 laps in total, equating to 26.4 miles, just over a marathon distance for each team.”
It was cold and windy on the day but about 150 Foxy Ladies headed up the hill to the start, some in fancy dress or team colours and some with face paints but all with a great spirit. The club’s youth girls, aged 14 to 18, took part and often helped other teams out by running laps for them. Julia said: “It was an emotional day for all that took part and we are grateful to all our club members and to all their partners for marshalling and volunteering on the day.”
Passers by donated money and bought cakes on sale during the event, and another Foxy husband, Gareth Blower, ran the London Marathon for the cause in October, raising £650 towards the costs. Julia said: “The best news is that we have raised enough money in conjunction with The Sussex Heart Charity to have two rural defibrillators placed rurally, one up near Cissbury Ring and the other at Storrington Rise car park. If these defibrillators help to save just one life, then it is worthwhile.”