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Thetford runner Melanie Furness accepts London Marathon place for St Nicholas Hospice Care in comeback from Long Covid



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A Thetford marathon runner has targeted the London Marathon as she battles to ‘learn to run again’ with Long Covid.

Melanie Furness, on the World Marathon List for completing more than 300 marathons, tested positive in March this year and the debilitating condition even had the 50-year-old contemplating dumping her running gear at one point.

But after being offered a St Nicholas Hospice Care charity place in the world famous race, which was her first marathon back in 2011, Mel decided to go for it.

Melanie Furness is on the World Marathon List for completing more than 300 marathons. Picture: Mark Westley
Melanie Furness is on the World Marathon List for completing more than 300 marathons. Picture: Mark Westley

She said: “Covid has hit me hard both mentally and physically. I lost my mojo and confidence for running.

“I did think about binning my running stuff, and I know compared to what others have gone through that may seem like nothing, but for me it was a life-changing thought.”

After being offered the spot, Mel went on social media asking if she should take it due to her lack of confidence.

Mel has raised a lot of money for St Nicholas Hospice Care over the years, including £2,400 for running 30 half marathons in 30 days. Picture: Richard Marsham
Mel has raised a lot of money for St Nicholas Hospice Care over the years, including £2,400 for running 30 half marathons in 30 days. Picture: Richard Marsham

Mel said: “A friend of mine, Des Talbot, died of cancer in 2018, her daughter Sasha messaged ‘if my mum can do it with cancer, you can’.

“That and doing it for St Nicholas, which has helped some of my friends and family, has inspired me.”

The runner said pre-Covid she would have done 25 to 30 marathons already this year, but she is now starting again from scratch.

Mel, right, with her friend Desmonde 'Des' Talbot who died of cancer in 2018. Picture submitted
Mel, right, with her friend Desmonde 'Des' Talbot who died of cancer in 2018. Picture submitted

She said: “I have had to learn how to run again as a complete beginner. My legs still remember what they are doing but it is about the boundaries of what I can do now.

“London was my first, so it is special - I’m starting again by going back to the beginning.”

Mel said due to Long Covid the distances she can do have varied, though using the Jeff Galloway method, a programme of running and walking, she is up to eight miles.

Mel in New York after completing the city's marathon in 2017. Picture submitted
Mel in New York after completing the city's marathon in 2017. Picture submitted

She said: “I’ve been brutally honest to everyone, it is not about how fast I can do it, it is actually finishing post-Covid, which would be awesome and hopefully inspire others.

“I’m an experienced athlete having to start from scratch and I hope this helps others to realise that they can get back up from this and work slowly to enjoying the things they love again.”

To donate to Mel’s marathon run, go to tcslondonmarathon.enthuse.com/pf/melanie-furness.