JigSaw Runners
Jig Saw Running

To raise funds to support research into treatment and hopefully a cure for breast cancer, I became a member of the JigSaw runners club of the Breast Cancer Campaign in 2008. I hope you feel inspired by my efforts, and will support cancer research in your own way.

* Chester Marathon, 7 October 2018. My first third time lucky race! I smashed my PB by nine minutes, to 3 hr 23 m 27 s, still only ending 582nd out of 2820.

before: Chester 2018 and behind: Chester 2018

* Chester Marathon, 8 October 2017. My second repeat race. I only entered five days before, not having had the greatest of preparations. And yet i ran my second best time, just a minute behind my PB: 3 hr 33 m 29 s and 657th out of 2643. (All splits up to 30k were bang on the 3:30 pace.)

Chester 2017 Chester 2017 © Joana

* Windermere Marathon, 22 May 2016. Finally, after three years... Well, it nearly didn't happen (again), when three weeks before race day a freak fall while running severely injured my shoulder (among other cuts and bruises). It went very well despite the horrific hills following one another unrelentlessly, but i got dehydrated in the last few kilometres and lost precious time. My time of 3 hr 44 m 35 s (the winner ran 2 hr 36 m) and 96th place in a field of 535 are pretty decent.

* Snowdonia Marathon, 25 October 2014. Unfortunately I had to cancel my participation. I got tackled during a football match in August, crippling me for six weeks. By the time I got back to running again it was October. And then I caught a nasty cold which knocked me down the weekend before the marathon. It was not to be, this year. Foot 2014

* Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon, 15 September 2013. My first repeat race. Despite an incoherent preparation I knew I was in decent shape. The weather was horrendous, with rain throughout and strong wind (though this course is rather protected). I had hoped to break my PB, never expecting to smash it by over 5 minutes to 1 hr 33 m 07 s, 181st fastest of 1298 finishers.

* Leiden Marathon, 26 May 2013. A delightful run through the historic city, pretty villages and pittoresque countryside with enthusiastic public (human and farm animal alike). This time, I believed it when they said "flat"! I should also have remembered that there is a reason Holland is famous for its windmills... The winner ran just under 2:20; I was a little slower than that but very content with 3 hr 39 m 14 s, at quite a steady pace, ending 226 out of 746 runners faster than 5.5 hr.

Leiden 2013
Leiden 2013 Leiden 2013 Leiden 2013
© pappa & mamma

* Chester Marathon, 7 October 2012. Running through an ancient Roman city and pretty English and Welsh countryside and historic villages; start and finish at the Chester (horse) Racecourse. A brilliant day, lots of sunshine, almost no wind and temperatures climbing to about 12 C. Not flat, especially there's a nasty climb into Chester a few km before the finish. Unfortunately I suffered from a cold since the week before and arrived far from fit at the start. Until halfway all seemed well but after that it took its toll, so I decided to try to enjoy it as much as I could rather than torturing myself. I ended in position 846 out of 2079 runners finishing within seven hours, with a time of 3 hr 51 m 05 s. This year has been a little disappointing, but hopefully it means better times ahead!

* Midnight Sun Marathon in Tromsø, 70 degrees North, 30 June 2012. This is a mostly delightful run along the seafront surrounded by mountains clad in snow nearly down to sea level, negotiating a real stinker of a 40-m high bridge, twice, followed by a Norwegian interpretation of a "flat" course, all in the middle of the night in continuous daylight. Unfortunately that day my legs had other plans and after 22 km I gradually started giving up on a good time, finishing in a rather disappointing 3 hr 53 m 14 s, ranking 196 out of 520 finishing participants. As ever, I'm immensely grateful to the old and new supporters of the Breast Cancer Campaign (we raised 485 pounds).

Tromso 2012 Tromso 2012 Tromso 2012 © Joana

The pictures above captured the start; things soon got blurred...

* Loch Ness Marathon, 2 October 2011. We got a good soaking from the rain in the first 10K but the Sun came out at the finish line. A beautiful course, downhill on balance but with some murderous ascents to negotiate as well. I shattered my personal best by a quarter of an hour, to 3 hr 32 m 26 s, ranking 312 out of 2346 finishing participants. I was priviliged to meet Nessie afterwards (see the picture on the right) - his potent breath can be attributed to Baxters' soup. Many thanks again to all of you who supported the Breast Cancer Campaign (we raised 248 pounds). Loch Ness 2011 © Joana

* Egmond Half Marathon, 9 January 2011. After two failed attempts, three times lucky! The weather was great, sunny and above zero, just a tad windy at the seaside but the beach was in perfect condition. Perhaps I enjoyed it a little too much because I arrived only after 1 hr 44m 46 s (2419 out of 9845) with energy to spare.

* Athens Marathon, 31 October 2010, the 2500th anniversary of the epic run from Marathon to Athens. My first marathon. The atmosphere was fantastic, people lining the entire course and cheering us on as if we had just beaten the Persians. The Sun was merciless. Half of it was uphill. Narrowly avoiding Pheidippides' fate, I reached the finish in the Panathinaikon stadium after 3 hr 46 m 58 s, ranking 1719 out of approximately 12,500. Many thanks to all the people who supported the Breast Cancer Campaign (we raised 426 pounds).

The picture on the bottom right shows five more astronomers who ran that day. We are all smiling (again).
Athens 2010 1
Athens 2010 2 © Joana

* Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon, 12 September 2010. A scenic run around a lake in the Welsh border hills. Despite (or because of?) a nice dinner with wine and aguardiente the night before, I felt great and improved my PB by seven minutes (1 hr 38 m 27 s, 220 out of 1205), and about as much ahead of the guy dressed-up as a sunflower (well done you!). Check out the weird relativistic effects on the picture to the right, mere seconds away from finishing. Vyrnwy 2010 © Joana

* Egmond Half Marathon, 10 January 2010. Unfortunately, the severe winter (icy paths and roads) forced the organisation to first change the route to only follow the beach, but subsequently to cancel the 38th edition of this event altogether. Together with a few hundred others spread over the day (from a total 17,500 registered participants), I decided to run the race anyhow. Running the 10 km back against a stiff polar wind and some sleet, making it hard to see and breath, over increasingly soft sand, I was glad to finish seven minutes above my PB and raising 150 pounds for the Breast Cancer Campaign.

Egmond 2010 1 Egmond 2010 2 Egmond 2010 3 Egmond 2010 4 © Joana

* Egmond Half Marathon, 11 January 2009. This is a Dutch classic. It first follows the beach and then returns through the dunes. Unfortunately, in the Summer of 2008 I contracted DVT coming back from Peru and had to cancel this event.

* Eyam Half Marathon, 18 May 2008. This was my first half marathon ever. It is an extremely delightful run through lovely countryside with splendid views, but rather tiring... I was very happy with my time (1 hr 45 m 36 s, 153 out of 432), and for raising 220 pounds for the Breast Cancer Campaign.