Sidmouth runner’s ‘grit and determination’ to run 200 miles for Guide Dog charity

Runner Kirsteen Welch with her trail running buddy Joey. Picture: Contributed

Runner Kirsteen Welch with her trail running buddy Joey. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

A Sidmouth athlete has completed the equivalent of seven marathons in a week to raise more than £500 for a guide dog charity.

Guide Dogs is a charity close to Kirsteen Welch’s heart as her sister Lena was born with Nystagmus and suffers from sight loss.

Kirsteen, 28, told the Herald: “I saw first hand through her the difference having a guide dog made to her life.

“She is an inspiration to so many visually impaired people as she doesn’t let her sight loss stand in her way and for that I am super proud of her.”

As a runner for more than seven years, Kirsteen was inspired to go the extra mile to raise money because of her sister’s spirit and her work as a trainee guide dog mobility instructor for the charity.

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Kirsteen said: “In order for me to get sponsorship and encourage people to donate I knew I would need to push myself further than I ever have before and so decided to run as many miles as I possibly could in one week”

The week she chose was Guide Dog Week (October 8 to 14) which is an annual event to celebrate the first ever working guide dog.

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Combining the running with a full time job meant a gruelling schedule for Kirsteen. Starting at 6am, she would complete one run before work and then a second in the evening.

Storm Callum and dark mornings tried their best but they could not stop Kirsteen from getting out there. She said: “By the end of the working week I had run 119 miles, more than I thought I could achieve and thanks to my colleagues and friends for their never ending words of support and encouragement I decided to see if I could get to 200 miles.”

The final hurdle was two 40 mile runs last Saturday and Sunday. Six hours of continuous running on both days saw Kirsteen cross the 200 mile mark.

She said: “Every evening I would post on my Facebook page how many miles I had run that day, my legs would hurt and I would feel exhausted but when my friends commented offering support and encouragement it would motivate me to go out and do it all over again the next day.”

Kirsteen set a fundraising target of £500 but has since surpassed that and is closer to £600. She added: “I am absolutely amazed that I have managed to raise so much money and exceed my target of £500, the weekends running of back to back 40 miles are what really helped so the pain and hardship was definitely worth it.”

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