Next month, Jack and Natalie Chivers will fly from their home in Sussex, England, to sunny Jamaica, where they’ll celebrate their honeymoon.
While plenty of newlyweds do likewise, these do-gooders won’t spend the whole trip lounging on the beach and sipping umbrella drinks. Before heading home, they’ll run in the Reggae Marathon, Jack’s 18th 26.2-miler of the year. Natalie has joined him for five, and should she complete this one, the pair will have finished 18 marathons between them in 2013.
That adds up to nearly 500 miles, but that’s not the number they’re most concerned with. It’s all about the pounds, as Jack is raising money for Crohn’s and Colitis UK, and Natalie is making the marathon rounds to benefit Breast Cancer Care.
Both have personal connections to their causes: Jack’s father died in 2011 from the diseases he’s fighting, and Natalie has lost friends and family to breast cancer.
The yearlong string of marathons began back on January 25, before they were married, when Jack took part in the Dubai Marathon. Natalie, who’s only been running for about a year, made her marathon debut in Rome on March 17, a month before their wedding, and even though she’d worked her way up from 10K races, 10-milers, and mud runs, she was nervous going in.
"I wasn't sure if I'd get round,” she told ThisIsSussex.com. "But Jack's encouragement got me through—though he would say that I finished because I'm really stubborn!"
With that stubbornness came great rewards—and not just for the couple’s pet charities.
"People say that doing a marathon is life-changing—and it is,” Natalie said. “Afterwards you feel amazing."
She’s since felt that feeling in Edinburgh, Bath, Bournemouth, and Athens. Bath, she says, was the toughest, since the course was “beyond hilly.”
“There were near-vertical climbs, and even the winner didn't run the whole thing,” she said. “A lot of people dropped out. And it was mentally tough.”
That’s where stubbornness—and good-heartedness—come into play.
"Knowing that I'm fundraising keeps me going,” she said, “and I'm doing the marathons especially for my nan, Nancy King, who died of breast cancer."
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