Good shepherd runs Bristol Half Marathon in memory of hepatitis C victim
A GOOD shepherd from Thornbury marked six years almost to the day since one of her best friends succumbed to hepatitis C by reaching the finish line of the Bristol Half Marathon on Sunday.
Nothing could have hindered Emma Shepherd, 36, from completing the 13-mile course in memory of Karen Penman, who died on September 17, 2007 at the tender age of 34, not even a recent and painful injury to her Achilles heel.
Running the race on behalf of The Hepatitis C Trust, she resolved not only to pay homage to her close friend, whom she met on holiday four years before she passed away, but to raise awareness of the life-threatening virus.
"I wanted to do something to remember Karen," said Emma. "She was a very good friend who is always on my mind.
"Unfortunately she was a drug user and that's how she contracted hepatitis C.
"When Karen died, it was very painful for me but enough time has passed now and with the run falling on the same weekend as the anniversary of her death, I felt it was a good thing to do."
She added: "Before she died, Karen was constantly spreading the word of hepatitis C. Running the marathon I have come across so many people who when I tell them what I’m raising money for, they ask me ‘What’s that?’ "There needs to be less stigma and more awareness of the virus."
A self-styled "overweight non-runner", Emma took up the sport 18 months ago after being selected to participate in the London Marathon last year.
Her plans came to a screeching halt when she wounded her Achilles heel in July and was told by doctors she would not be able to take part in the Bristol Half Marathon.
Yet, the export administrator made an unexpected and swift recovery and was able to keep to the promise she had made herself, completing the race in just two hours and 22 minutes.
"I was told I would be out of running for six months," she said. "Just to be able to run at all was an achievement. I did think that if the injury was as severe as they said I would walk it. I wanted to do it for Karen."
Emma has so far raised £186. To make a donation and support The Hepatitis C Trust visit www.justgiving.com/ShepBristolHalf
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