A BARNSLEY College manager achieved her personal best in the London Marathon and raised thousands of pounds for Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Hair and Beauty Programme Manager Julie Allen finished the run in three hours, 53 minutes and 38 seconds– raising £8,000 taking her total from the four marathons she has run to £20,000!

Julie and her brother Alan Smith have been running the prestigious event on and off since 2017, after Alan suggested they do it initially for a laugh after only running seven miles.

The applications went in for the ballot and the self-titled Sibling Striders running group was formed – Julie was selected but Alan missed out! They both did the training though with 5am runs on cold, winter mornings.

“Running my first ever marathon, in honesty was an amazing experience. I loved it until I hit the wall at mile 19. Then it was tough, it was a mental and physical challenge,” said Julie.

“I crossed the finish line at four hours, 29 minutes and 42 seconds. I declared to my brother that it was my first and last marathon,”

But Alan wasn’t taking no for an answer and applied for them both again in 2018. This time Alan made it and Julie thought she had missed out!

“Alan was selected and I wasn’t so I thought phew that’s got me out of that. It was short lived, when Alan announced he had secured me a charity place with Alzheimer’s Research UK.”

The charity is particularly close to Julie and Alan’s heart as their mum had been diagnosed with the disease before passing away.

The 2018 London Marathon was one of the hottest on record at 24 degrees with runners being warned it could be even hotter on the course due to the heat absorbed by the roads!

Julie said. “It was unbearable, fire engines were lined up with sprinklers around the course to give some relief to the runners, who were passing out all over the course. There were many times that day that I thought I wasn’t going to make it but we did it in four hours, 22 minutes and 29 seconds.”

In 2019, Julie and her brother trimmed their finishing time down further to just under four hours posting three hours, 55 minutes and 16 seconds.

2020 came around and Julie got a ‘Good for Age’ place which are awarded based on qualifying times achieved within the designated qualifying period for the runner’s age. Alan had managed to secure a charity slot. Due to Covid lockdowns that year’s marathon didn’t go ahead.

Julie and Alan decided to take a break and deferred their entries mainly due to injuries and illness for a few years. 2024 came around and the last chance to use their marathon slots had arrived, so before they were lost the training began.

And Julie and Alan might not be done with marathons just yet either.

Julie said: “Next year we are planning on running the New York marathon although I’ve heard there’s some hills. Not my favourite challenge, so we will see.”