‘I was just determined to finish’ – Siblings complete Stevenage Half Marathon in their dad’s memory despite crash with car two weeks before

James and Ellie Butt both ran the Stevenage Half Marathon on Sunday in memory of their dad Andy, who

James and Ellie Butt both ran the Stevenage Half Marathon on Sunday in memory of their dad Andy, who sadly died almost two years ago from oesophageal cancer aged just 52. - Credit: Archant

Two siblings completed the Stevenage Half Marathon on Sunday in their dad’s memory – despite one of them being hit by a car two weeks before while out training.

Ellie and James Butt took on the 13.1-mile race organised by Fairlands Valley Spartans running club to raise funds and awareness of Heartburn Cancer UK – after their dad Andy died from oesophageal cancer on November 30, 2014. He was just 52.

Almost two years on, the pair – both from Stevenage and ex-pupils at the former Collenswood School – were able to reminisce about childhood memories of their dad as they made their way round, but Ellie almost didn’t make the start line after a collision with a car on a zebra crossing while out jogging in London on October 23.

The 28-year-old fractured her wrist and nose in the crash – as well as spraining her knee – but her main concern as she was taken to hospital was whether she’d be able to run the half marathon just two weeks later.

After getting the all-clear, Ellie managed to complete the two-lap challenge in 2h09m29s, with James, 30, finishing in an impressive time of 1:37:23.

So far they have raised more than £2,000 for Heartburn Cancer UK, and their efforts are all the more poignant as their uncle is now battling oesophageal cancer.

Reflecting on the day and the importance of their cause, Ellie said: “The race was definitely the hardest I’ve done – apparently running with broken bones and a swollen knee adds 20 minutes to your PB!

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“After the first lap I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish, my knee brace wouldn’t stay in place and made it even harder to run. Fortunately my mum Melanie volunteered as a marshal so when I saw her she took it off for me and I could carry on.

“I was just determined to finish, and a pep talk and some jelly babies from a particularly friendly and encouraging marshal at Fairlands Valley Lakes helped keep me going at mile nine when it felt like I could barely put one foot in front of the other.

“Although it was just a run, it was really important to me. It was my main focus in the ambulance after being hit by the car – I just didn’t want to not be able to do the thing me and my brother decided to do in our dad’s memory and for a small, new charity that I really think could help prevent what happened to our family happening to others.

“Early warning signs such as persistent heartburn are often ignored or thought just minor ailments but, as the name of the charity we’ve been supporting suggests, this should be checked out as it may be a precursor to oesophageal cancer.

“Although the run was quite painful, it was really lovely to take the time to think about my childhood in Stevenage with my dad as I ran round – flying kites at Fairlands, watching terrible football matches in the freezing cold and just how much I miss him.”

To make a donation visit justgiving.com/fundraising/JamesandEleanor.