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Community rallies for women-only marathon in Tipton St John

PUBLISHED: 18:30 18 May 2017 | UPDATED: 14:38 19 May 2017

Olympian Jo Pavey with Women Can marathon organisers and Ottery Men's Shed users. Photo by Phyllis Baxter.

Olympian Jo Pavey with Women Can marathon organisers and Ottery Men's Shed users. Photo by Phyllis Baxter.

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The lead organiser of East Devon’s first women-only marathon has thanked the community for rallying after the sudden death of her mother.

Jo Earlam, seen here after completing her first marathon in London in 2005Jo Earlam, seen here after completing her first marathon in London in 2005

Rosemary Bishop had been set to hand out medals after the inaugural Women Can race next Sunday (May 28), but now other members of Jo Earlam’s family will take her place.

A ‘phenomenal’ response has seen the maximum number of runners increase to 400 and it now promises to be the biggest event Tipton St John has ever seen.

With Jo stepping back, she thanked everyone who has helped, particularly Ottery Men’s Shed for crafting 26 mile markers and 120 arrows to help the runners on their way.

She said: “It’s completely sold out. We’ve got over 400 women from all over the country and as far away as New York and Europe taking part.

“The response has been phenomenal – it’s been an amazing success.

“Mum was hugely involved. Before she died, we were really close to bringing the event to completion, now I’ve taken a back seat. It completely threw me off course.

“In the last few weeks there’s been this amazing effort to rally round and deliver the event everyone is expecting. Pauline Beare, the race director, has picked up pieces.

“It will be the biggest event Tipton St John has ever had.”

Jo said she had always planned to run the marathon and hopes she still can. Some 300 individuals and 40 relay teams will take part in the race – one of the only marathons that are exclusively for women in the UK.

Jo said her mother, who died at the age of 76, had been a listening ear throughout the planning for the event and was always supportive. She had handed out medals after the 10km run Jo organises in the village and was set to fulfil the same role after the marathon.

The off-road race through the Sid and Otter valleys will be held in part to mark the 50th anniversary of Tipton St John Playing Field.

Jo said they need more volunteers to marshal the course, even if they can only spare an hour or two. Email pauline@womencan.co.uk to help out.

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