A RUNNER from Highampton is nursing sore muscles after successfully completing Sunday’s Virgin Money London Marathon in memory of the best friend she lost to cancer.

‘It was tough but not finishing wasn’t an option,’ says Gail Waite who has raised a whopping £1,125 for a charity which helped her friend’s young daughter after she died.

Gail, 52, finished the 26.2 mile course in 5:28:20. She took on the challenge in memory of Katie Faulkner who died from breast cancer aged just 38 in March. Katie, from Surrey, left behind a daughter Bea, now aged seven.

Bea has been helped by charity Jigsaw (South East) which helps bereaved children and young people and those who have a close relative with a terminal illness. Gail ran the marathon last Sunday to raise money for them.

‘Katie was one of my best friends and the day she died on March 30 2018, a light went out for me and many who loved her.’ she said. ‘When she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer in January 2018, she had no symptoms. I thought there would be longer to say goodbye.’

Gail was also running to support another close friend who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer.

‘Every time I thought I couldn’t keep going, I remembered the awesome women I was running for and the wonderful charity that helps children, like my friend’s, who have lost a parent. This was for them,’ she said.

She did her training on the Tarka Trail, starting off in February, fitting it around her work delivering vegetable boxes for a farm in Petrockstowe. This was Gail’s third London Marathon, but her most challenging to date.

‘It was difficult,’ she admits. ‘My training wasn’t as good as it might have been and I picked up a few injuries and there was probably more tape on me than there is ever been at the start of a race. There was never a question of not finishing it though.’

Gail stopped en route and asked a marshal to take a photo of her at the 18-mile marker, dedicated to murdered teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was killed 26 years ago on April 22, 1993.

Stephen was 18 when he died after a racially motivated attack. He had planned to become an architect and the structure was designed by young architects, to motivate runners at one of the toughest sections of the 26.2 mile course. She was delighted to receive a congratulatory tweet from Stephen Lawrence’s brother on Monday, after Jigsaw (South East) posted the photograph of Gail at the marker point. ‘I was quite blown away by that,’ said Gail. ‘He didn’t need to bother but it was nice of him.’

Jigsaw (South East)’s fundraising coordinator Sophie Bewley said: ‘We cannot thank Gail enough. Donations such as Gail’s all help us to continue our valuable work with children, young people and their families.’

Jigsaw (South East) is based in East Grinstead in West Sussex and helps children and young people affected by bereavement.

Gail’s fundraising page can be found on justgiving.com