Libby Higgins, from Waterlooville, had never run a full marathon before competing in this year’s virtual 40th London Marathon on Sunday.
This year, the 26.2 mile London Marathon was run in towns and villages across the UK, so instead of exploring London’s streets, 19-year-old Libby pounded the pavements of Hilsea, Southsea, Havant and Fratton in Portsmouth.
She was joined every 5km by a succession of friends, family members and neighbours, with her former college friend Peter Dawes, who has just been given the all-clear from leukaemia, joining her for the last 5km.
The pair ran into Fratton Park to a crowd of socially distanced friends and family, with Libby achieving a time of 4:33:11.
Libby is in her second year studying graphic communication design at London’s Central Saint Martins, and wanted to run to raise funds and awareness of leukaemia, on behalf of 19-year-old Peter.
Peter and Libby met while studying at Godalming College and shared a passion for the arts and a dream to attend art school after graduating.
Libby said: ‘Peter fell ill in April 2019 when we were both in college. He was diagnosed with leukaemia and, after months of treatment at Southampton General Hospital, a bone marrow match was found and he was given a transplant.
‘Despite feeling better, he was at high risk of infection and so had to remain isolated for more than a year. Finally, last month – over 16 months since his diagnosis, he was given the all-clear.’
She hoped to have raised £500 for Blood Cancer UK, Teenage Cancer Trust and CLIC Sargent, but due to the generosity of friends and family that number has doubled.
Libby, who completed two half-marathons during her training, said: ‘I wanted to complete the marathon in under five hours, but I had wondered if that would be possible without the crowds that would have lined the route in London.
‘I’m thrilled I finished with a decent time. It really helped having friends and family running with me in 5km relays and stopped my motivation from falling off a cliff.’