Devoted uncle’s three day non stop charity marathon for niece Martha

Devoted uncle Christian Harding celebrated the 10th birthday of his late niece Martha Kinley by raising £2,376 in her name for mums and babies charity Baby Beat running almost non stop for three days and two nights.

Christian (44), who is from Preston but now lives in St Andrews, Scotland, where he works as a links and exchanges co-ordinator at the city’s university, was joined either virtually or in real life for some of his run by Martha’s brothers Elliott (12) and five-year-old Orren. They live in Fulwood with parents Ben and Clare Kinley and brother Arlo (nine). Clare is Christian’s younger sister.

Together with Ben, Orren and parents Graham and Janet Harding, of Pilling, Clare travelled to Newburgh in Fife to see Christian off on a 175 mile route that Christian had devised himself that followed both the Fife Coastal Path and the Fife Pilgrim Way.

Christian, who only took up running in his late thirties, left at 5 am on the Friday morning, setting himself a 60-hour goal of reaching his finish line, St Andrew’s Cathedral, by late afternoon on the Sunday. He got there at 8-20 pm on the Sunday evening in 63 hours, 20 minutes. Christian said: “I managed to run 142 miles on just three and a half hours’ sleep.

“I took part in my first ever 24 hour ultra marathon last year in which I ran just short of 104 miles. Even though I had walked or run more than 95 per cent of the Fife route before, I knew it was always going to be difficult because I didn’t know how I was going to cope with the lack of sleep and the distance beyond which I had run in 2023.”

Christian continued: “I had to stop at 142 miles because my legs had stiffened up and I was just getting more injured. My wife Briony, who runs distances of 5k or 10k for exercise, finished off the last 37 miles for me although after a sleep, I was able to join her for the final four so that we reached the cathedral together. By this stage, I had walking poles but I was using them more like crutches!

“As an experience though, it was amazing and very enriching especially as I had so many friends and family alongside me for much of the route. My parents and Clare and Ben were there throughout the night with food and changes of clothes.

“Elliott, who had been at a scout camp, ran 6.5k on the treadmill in Fulwood while Orren ran along a coastal path with me and also did some treadmill running when he got home. My brother James, his wife Kari and 12-year-old son Beckett, who live in Pennsylvania, ran 21k virtually with me, while a number of friends also joined me. Briony was incredible as in total, she must have covered more than 60 miles. I also received very generous sponsorship for which I am incredibly grateful.”

Christian, who is planning a return to running once recovered, has raised a total of £5,366 for Baby Beat since 2019 by running in memory of Martha, who he met briefly shortly after she was born. Christian explained: “Martha was born poorly. While she was with us, she was looked after brilliantly by the staff at Sharoe Green Maternity Unit.

“Clare, Ben and Elliott, who was just two at the time, as well as myself and other family members, were able to spend as much time as possible with her thanks to a special family room on the unit funded by Baby Beat.”

Baby Beat is part of the Lancashire Teaching Hospitals Charity family. It funds specialist equipment, patient services and comforts, clinical care, local research, additional training and staff welfare projects so that the maternity and gynaecology teams can offer the best possible outcomes for babies and mums in the Central Lancashire and Chorley area.