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Thursday, 18 September 2014

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Barrow mum’s 100-mile challenge in honour of fallen soldier

IN March 2010, Sonja Foster took on a sponsored run, having given her best friend’s son the chance to choose which charity she should support.

Then preparing for his first trip to Afghanistan, Kingsman David Shaw chose forces charity, Help for Heroes, to benefit from her Coniston 14 challenge.

Tragically, just over three years on, Ms Foster is now preparing to take on her greatest running challenge to date in honour of the same young soldier.

Kgn Shaw, of 1st Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, died in January aged 23 after being shot by insurgents in Afghanistan.

Now Ms Foster, a well-known Barrow runner, will battle through more than 100 miles in his memory.

The 43-year-old, who met Kgn Shaw’s mum Jenny when she was 17, said: “I knew David really well – he’s the same age as my eldest daughter and I watched them grow up together. He was such a lovely little lad, a big softie when he was younger, and then just seeing him grow into this young man really was amazing.”

Ms Foster will run nearly 102 miles throughout 2013 in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund which, she says, has offered endless support to her friends.

The ABF arranged cars to take Kgn Shaw’s family to Birmingham, where he was treated at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital after being flown back injured from Lashkar Gah, so they could say goodbye to him before he passed away. The soldiers’ charity also arranged accommodation during their time there.

Ms Foster said: “They’ve been absolutely brilliant. They’re still helping them now.”

Ms Foster’s challenge kicks off on April 28, with the Sunderland Marathon. Just 13 days later she will run the 40-mile K2B, 14 days before taking on another 6.2 miles in the Manchester 10K.

Following a break, during which Ms Foster plans to take on a few extra challenges including Total Warrior at Shap, she will do the 13.1 mile Great North Run in September.

Her challenge will finish in October, when she runs the Coniston 14 route.

The event was postponed earlier this year, so what would have been her first run will now be her last, a “grand finale” with Kgn Shaw’s family coming out to watch.

Ms Foster will also be supported on some of her other challenges by members of the family and her running team, the Parkside Panthers, but knows she will need to tap into her own personal strength.

She said: “The toughest thing about it is going to be the emotional rollercoaster I’m going to be on, because any physical challenge is tough emotionally without this as well. It’s either going to make me stronger or it’ll break me, but I’ve got to keep telling myself who I’m doing it for. David is a hero, and he’ll live on in our hearts forever.”

Visit www.justgiving.com/Sonja-Foster1 to sponsor Ms Foster.

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