‘Inspirational’ Sidbury gran takes on first triathlon at 75

Christine Baker. Ref shs 17-16AW 4926. Picture: Alex Walton

Christine Baker. Ref shs 17-16AW 4926. Picture: Alex Walton - Credit: Archant

Unlikely athlete, Christine, will be raising funds for Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund

A grandmother – who had never even ridden a bike before the age of 70 – will tackle her first triathlon to aid pancreatic cancer research.

Unlikely athlete Christine Baker, 75, is in training to complete a 400-metre lake swim, a 13.2km cycle ride, and a 2.9km run in just under two hours next month.

Christine, of Orchardside, Sidbury, says the words of late journalist Kingsley Squire inspired her to pursue the tough three-part challenge, after a throwaway remark planted the seed of an idea.

“I had never even ridden a bike until I was 70 and I have never run anything more than 100 yards - and that was when I was in school,” she said.

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Christine had followed the story of Kingsley, 78, who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer last year and bravely documented his experiences in the Herald to raise awareness of the disease and the importance of early diagnosis.

She has known people who have battled the illness and was so touched by Kingsley’s moving accounts, she set out to raise funds to fight a type of cancer that ‘desperately needs significant research investment to improve patient survival’.

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With the help of her husband Bill, first-time triathlete Christine is preparing for the challenge at Blenheim Palace on June 4.

“Last year, my son did the Blenheim Palace Triathlon,” said Christine. “I was talking to one of his friends afterwards and said I would love to have done that – with an emphasis on the ‘would have done’.

“I have two friends whose fathers have both had pancreatic cancer and I read the articles in the Herald about Kingsley. I was really inspired by what he wrote and that is really what sparked it off. Since then I have heard of a number of people who have had this terrible disease.”

Christine is a keen swimmer, but admitted training for a triathlon was new ground for both her and Bill – who took advice from organisers and the internet.

Bill said he is immensely proud of his ‘inspirational’ wife and admits it was a bit of a surprise when she first mentioned the idea, but he has supported her all the way.

Christine added: “My son’s partner, Nina Ferstner, will be doing it with me – she is about 40 years younger than me but has promised to stick by me. I did not tell anybody for ages, but once I started training I started telling people. All the family will be there and some friends. I’m a bit nervous, but I have got so much support. My granddaughters, Evie and Olivia, will probably shout the loudest.”

Christine is raising money for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund. To find out more or donate online, visit: www.justgiving.com/ChristineBaker308

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