Counting down to the challenge of her life

Counting down to the challenge of her life  name

The furthest 28-year-old Katie Banks has ever run competitively is 8k, but in just four months’ time the University of Cumbria’s International Coordinator will line up with thousands of others to compete in the Virgin Money London Marathon.   

Her motivation is her sister Stefanie (31) who has 4-year-old twins but suffers from cystic fibrosis, a condition affecting around ten thousand people in the UK.

"I enjoy taking on a challenge and having a focus and this seemed like one of the biggest challenges that I could undertake," Katie says. "My sister is very inspirational – I am so proud of her. She lives life to the full, got married earlier this year and has twin four-year-old sons who keep her very busy.  I want to run the marathon to raise as much money as I can for cystic fibrosis, to help find a cure, so that other people with cystic fibrosis can live a life unlimited."

Having secured her marathon place through the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, Katie hopes to raise sponsorship money from individuals as well as the Border Concert Band, of which she has been a member since March 2016. A keen flautist (she’s played since she was eight years old), she’s delighted her band will perform special events during the first few months of 2017 to help Katie raise more funds.

Luke Russell from the university's Fusehill Street Sports Centre has encouraged Katie to join UoC (University of Cumbria) Road Runners, who meet at 5.15pm every Wednesday, as part of her training plans.

Through a structured programme she’ll develop from a basic level of fitness to running the full marathon distance of 26.2 miles by 23rd April. This may well mean some night-time running around Carlisle, but at weekends she hopes to get out onto trails and bike tracks during daylight hours.

Of her training regime, Luke says:

"As this is Katie's first marathon, we are looking to focus on her getting round the course in one piece rather than setting a goal time for her to reach. Her training programme will ensure that she is well prepared for London and that the experience is as enjoyable as possible. The best piece of advice I have given her for the big day is to relax and run at her own pace."

As testament to the amount of support Katie is going to have from her family and friends, her sister Stefanie says, "When I received a phone call from my younger sister to inform me she was intending to run the London marathon for CF all I felt was emotion.  The fact that she wanted to run for a cause so close to her heart was fantastic to hear.  It hasn’t been easy for her, my youngest sister or my parents to watch those times when I have been ill, but giving birth to my very special 4-year-old twin boys, who are carriers of the CF gene, has created a special bond between us.

"I will support Katie in any way possible, even if the encouragement she needs in training is from her nephews chasing her!"

By training around her work commitments and running to and from her base at the university, Katie may well become a familiar sight around the streets of Carlisle. Many more will be watching and willing her across the finish line in London.

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Image shows Katie (left) with twins Daniel and Joshua, and sister Stefanie