THEY summed up the spirit and courage of thousands of runners.
As Natasha Saunders, 36, celebrated crossing the finish line of the world’s leading 10-mile race, she was met and hugged by her delighted son Finley, six.
It was a heartwarming moment for Natasha, of Queens Road, Copnor, Portsmouth, and her son as they have been through some tough battles together.
As Natasha gave birth to Finley she picked up an infection that developed into viral meningitis.
Then 12 hours later Finley was plucked from her arms at St Richard’s Hospital, Chichester, and taken to St Mary’s Hospital, Milton, Portsmouth, for emergency treatment because he had developed meningitis B, a potentially fatal strain of the disease.
Finley was kept in intensive care for three weeks, where doctors discovered the condition had caused him to develop autism. Now determined mum Natasha has achieved her goal of finishing the Bupa Great South Run in an effort to raise awareness of Finley’s plight and raise money for Meningitis Research Foundation.
‘The doctors at St Richard’s told me Finley was hours away from dying and needed treatment as soon as possible,’ she said.
‘It was just a complete nightmare.
‘It was the scariest time of my life.
‘Because my condition was viral it wasn’t that bad and I recovered.’
Natasha, who is also mum to Lewis, nine, said that life has been extremely hard.
‘I have a child who finds it difficult to show affection,’ she said. ‘He doesn’t want lots of hugs or kisses.
‘But I know he loves me and is proud of what I’ve done.’
Natasha had an extra incentive to take part in this year’s race – her best friend Sarah Kent died of swine flu two year’s ago.
‘I didn’t think I was going to be able to run any more after eight miles,’ she said.
‘But the thought of Finley spurred me on. He was the reason I never gave up.’
Finley, who is a pupil at Riverside Community Special School, Purbrook, said: ‘I’m so proud of my mummy.
‘She’s the best mummy in the whole world.’