FOR some, reaching 50 means taking things a little slower.
Not so for Nicola Leydon Jones who decided to mark her milestone birthday by running 5k every day for 50 days – ending on her birthday.
During that time she faced two of the worst storms to hit the UK for years, but she kept going and has raised an impressive £3,000 for Oakhaven Hospice in Pennington.
Now her amazing challenge is over, Nicola says she will “miss running every day” but adds: “I’m going to take a bit of a rest but then start again. I plan to do three 5k runs a week just to keep fit.
“When I first started I hated it, having to get out of bed in the dark and cold. But I’ve really enjoyed it as the weeks have passed and getting up this morning without going for a run felt really weird.”
Nicola’s unique celebration is in memory of her father Bill Darby who died at the age of 65 after suffering from cancer.
She said: “I’m originally from Birmingham and they had nothing like Oakhaven up there for dad. It is such a fantastic place which does so much good I wanted to do something for it.
“When I was thinking about how to celebrate my 50th I just hit on this idea. My friends and family all thought I was mad.
“I did offer for them to join me – if not for the whole thing then just for a day or two. But no one did!”
Every day at 6.30am since 2nd January Nicola has slipped out of her home in Renouf Close, Pennington, wearing just an Oakhaven T-shirt, leggings, trainer and a hat, to start her circular route which takes her up into the town before returning home.
After her daily run she headed to Lanes restaurant in the town centre which she runs with husband Peter who is president of the town’s chamber of commerce.
Nicola said: “I’m busy on my feet all day so I think I’m quite fit. The only injury I got during the 50 days was a very minor one when I slipped over.”
“When the weather was really bad, I just put my head down and powered through, I was not going to stay in bed.”
She set up a JustGiving page on which she posted a tribute to Oakhaven saying: “For those we have loved and lost, those we love and survived, Oakhaven is a very special place with a family warmth inside.
“They comfort and advise how to survive the sorrow, building bridges that will lead to a better tomorrow.”
Nicky ended her final run at Oakhaven where the chamber of commerce held a special celebratory meeting. She was presented with ‘50’ balloons and served with a full English breakfast.
To donate to Nicola’s cause visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nicola-leyland-jones.