‘Determined’ Ely woman battling illness defies coronavirus by completing first marathon

PUBLISHED: 11:14 08 April 2020 | UPDATED: 12:18 08 April 2020

Rachel Bailey completed her first marathon in and around Ely. Pictures: RACHEL BAILEY

Rachel Bailey completed her first marathon in and around Ely. Pictures: RACHEL BAILEY

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An Ely woman battling an auto-immune illness was determined not to let the coronavirus pandemic get in the way by completing her first marathon.

Rachel Bailey completed her first marathon in and around Ely. Pictures: RACHEL BAILEYRachel Bailey completed her first marathon in and around Ely. Pictures: RACHEL BAILEY

Rachel Bailey was diagnosed with lupus three-and-a-half years ago and was preparing to run the Manchester marathon on Sunday (April 5), before it was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Instead, she decided to run a 26.2-mile route of her own in and around Ely to the delight of friends, family and neighbours.

Vicki Bailey, Rachel’s wife, said: “She started at 6am because she thought ‘why not?’

“It is her 40th birthday in May and was doing the Manchester Marathon for this. She wanted to push herself to the next challenge.

Rachel Bailey running her marathon. Picture: VICKI BAILEYRachel Bailey running her marathon. Picture: VICKI BAILEY

“With her Lupus, I think she started challenges to keep herself going. This marathon was the ultimate goal, so there was a build-up to get to that point.

“She had done the park runs in Littleport, ran 5ks and raised money for charities, but set herself the challenge to say lupus is not going to beat her.”

Rachel, who has four children, had prepared for the race by running the Cambridge half marathon in March and did ‘RED January’ where she ran every day throughout that month.

When Rachel approached the final lap near her home on Debden Green, she was greeted with a warm reception, something Vicki did not expect.

Vicki said: “I messaged neighbours to pre-warn them that we will be cheering from our house and 10 different neighbours decided to join in, which was lovely.

“We had banners at our house and neighbours wondered why. When she came round to do her final lap around the green, everyone clapped.

“She said ‘who needs Manchester when you’ve got Debden Green’. It was a proud moment for everyone.”

Now one target has been achieved, Rachel hopes to help others in a similar situation through running, such as taking part in the London marathon, as she continues to defy the odds.

Rachel Bailey running her marathon. Picture: VICKI BAILEYRachel Bailey running her marathon. Picture: VICKI BAILEY

Vicki added: “The biggest reason why she did not go to London was because she did not want to let anyone down.

“I was quite concerned when people run a marathon when you hear all these horror stories, but she did not push herself too far.

“She is determined and a strong character. She is always pushing to try and better herself and prove a positive mindset.

“She is really inspirational and motivating to those who are thinking of or are running, or to anyone with an underlying health condition or disease.

A banner which reads 'Go Rachel' in support of her marathon run. Picture: VICKI BAILEYA banner which reads 'Go Rachel' in support of her marathon run. Picture: VICKI BAILEY

“It does not have to be a marathon, just anything you put your mind to and keep pushing.”

Rachel's children support their mum with their 'Go Mummy Rach!' poster. Picture: VICKI BAILEYRachel's children support their mum with their 'Go Mummy Rach!' poster. Picture: VICKI BAILEY

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