Marathon runner June conquers iconic race in honour of her brave friend
The courage of her friend, who battled cancer with bravery and dignity, was the spur for June Darley to take part in one of the world's most iconic races.
And she achieved what she set out to do by finishing the London Marathon in six hours, 19 minutes and seven seconds.
It was a realistic yet challenging goal as June had hoped to complete the race last Sunday within six and a half hours.
Thrilled with her achievement June said: " I had a race strategy and plan and it all came good. I did it in the blistering heat, about 24 degrees, nursing an ankle injury all the way.
"It was the hottest London Marathon on record."
Bringing the medal home for her friend Cynthia Thompson, who died in December after battling cancer, was a proud moment for June
She had planned to run the marathon without sponsorship as she did not want to ask people to donate but Cynthia's death changed her mind.
June said: “Throughout her battle with cancer, Cynthia was a real fighter and gave us all hope that she would win the day.
“Her courage inspired me to raise awareness and support for Macmillan Cancer Support.
"It is also Cynthia’s courage which has kept me in this race to the start line on Sunday."
The money June raises will be Cynthia's legacy and it was given a flying start when Lakeview Children's Nursery in Colne became her main sponsor and donated £500. June's daughter, June Pimley, is manager there and every year the school chooses a good cause to support with a generous donation.
The school is also helping to boost the fund with an I Spy nature walk and treasure hunt around Foulridge on Saturday, May 12th. The proceeds from that will be divided between Pendleside Hospice and Macmillan.
June first ran a marathon in 2006 when she took on the New York route. Ironically, her first steps in marathon running came at about the time she met Cynthia.
Six years later, she took on the Berlin Marathon and that was when she decided to hang up her running shoes.
But things changed, as she explains: “The lure of my home country’s marathon always remained with me and finally I secured a ballot place."
But June suffered a setback when she iinjured her ankle and could hardly walk.
She said: “I had to rest the ankle for weeks and gradually introduce running back into my training schedule.
“I also had to have a change of mind-set, attitude and race strategy - from having an original running goal of completing the marathon in just over five hours, to knowing that I could possibly have to walk the whole of 26.2 miles finishing long after the eight hour timescale to earn a medal!
“The psychology of it all turned out to be tougher than the physical endurance."
This year's event was plagued by water shortages and Cynthia, along with many other runners, had to rely on the kindness of spectators.
June said: "The water shortage was a big and potentially dangerous issue for all the later runners given the heat and some of my fellow runners have lodged complaints with the race organisers.
"However, this doesn't detract from the fact that I had a truly awesome day, proud of my own achievements, Team Macmillan and all the other runners I have met.
"Everyone had their own reason for running and their stories were so inspiring.
"Mine too was tremendously motivating and I did finish the Marathon with a sprint finish - strong, happy and very proud."
Anyone who wishes to make a donation to Macmillan Cancer Support can donate through justgiving at http://www.justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/June-Darley2.
Although she now lives in Long Preston near Settle, June lived and worked in Burnley for 15 years and her family still do.