A HORSELL couple have completed the Venice Marathon to raise money for a Woking charity, despite one of them tearing both calf muscles a few miles into the race.

Alex and Jane Ford are members of Horsell Runners and are experienced marathon competitors, having taken part in events in London, Paris, New York and Berlin.

The couple started the Venice race together on Sunday 27 October, wearing their Horsell Runners vests and hoping to finish in under four hours.

However, after 3km of the 42km event, Alex tore his right calf, and then at the 8km mark he tore his left calf.

“We chatted about what to do and he said for me to carry on,” Jane said. “I felt bad, but we said ‘see you at the end’ and I went on ahead.”

Alex said he continued walking in a lot of pain and at the half-marathon point (21km) he decided to retire and made his way to the rescue bus that took injured runners to the finish area.

“I was walking towards it and thought if I can do that, I can walk to the finish,” Alex said.

“I then carried on, walking, running and crying to the finish line.”

He took advantage of massage tables laid out at the 30km mark and believes the treatment he received helped him to carry on.

“The woman doing the massage said I shouldn’t continue, but I did,” Alex said.

Meanwhile, Jane finished the marathon in 3hr 56min 50sec. “I was pleased with that time as it was really very warm,” she said.

The couple’s parents and their two children had accompanied them to Venice and the family were monitoring Alex’s progress.

“I knew that he wasn’t so far behind me and I waited at the finish for him,” Jane said.

Despite his injuries and pain, Alex finished in 4hr 36min.  “For the last kilometre Jane’s parents and my kids ran beside me. Getting to the finish was a wonderful sense of achievement.”

Jane said she was very proud of Alex’s achievement. “He did really well,” she said.

The couple agreed that, despite Alex’s injuries, the event was enjoyable.

They have also so far raised nearly £2,800, to be split equally between Woking StrokeAbility,  of which Alex’s father Campbell is the chairman, and the Special Olympics, which arranges sporting events in Britain for those with intellectual problems.

They said the marathon is much smaller than those in cities such as London and New York, and the locals were enthusiastic in their support, banging saucepans together to urge the runners on.

Campbell Ford said the money raised would help with expenses such as venue hire and paying people to run classes.

“We are trying to provide more transport to our activities as some of our members have to rely on partners or carers and that doesn’t always work,” Campbell said. “This money will help with that.”

The couple chose the Special Olympics because it is the charity of Jane’s employer, Terry Foods in Egham.

Woking StrokeAbility provides aerobic and aqua exercise for stroke survivors and also for those with similar disabilities.

“The idea is to take the ‘dis’ out of disability,” Campbell said.  “Sessions are held every week in a gym and swimming pool with qualified trainers and there is a weekly social lunch.  Additionally, frequent social and fundraising events are held for members.”

To donate visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/HorsellFordsVeniceMarathonOct2019 and to find out more about Woking StrokeAbility, email [email protected].