Uncle’s ultra devotion to remembering niece Martha

Preston runner Christian Harding has dedicated crossing the finishing line in his first ever 24-hour ultra-marathon to his late niece Martha, using the race to raise £725 for charity Baby Beat in her memory.

Taking just one 50 minute break to grab 20 minutes sleep, Christian (43) managed to complete just under 104 miles in the Glenmore 24, held earlier this month in the Scottish Highlands.

Supported throughout by his wife Briony and a friend, Christian had to run multiple times around a four-mile loop. Out of 104 race entrants, Christian finished 16th as one of only 22 runners to reach the 100 miles or more mark.

Christian, who only took up running in his late thirties but who in 2019 ran 1,200 miles in 12 months, raising £2,266 for Baby Beat to celebrate what would have been Martha’s fifth birthday, said: “The event went much better than I thought it would.

“Everything just fell right. It taught me a lot too and it has inspired me into planning a solo ultra challenge next year to mark what would have been Martha’s 10th birthday.”

Martha was born to Christian’s younger sister Clare Kinley and her husband Ben. They live in Fulwood and are also parents to Elliot (11), Arlo (eight) and Orren (four). Christian, who has a doctorate from Fife’s St Andrew’s University where he works to co-ordinate links and exchange visits with other universities world-wide, 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 ward 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 and training so that the maternity and gynaecology teams can offer the best possible outcomes for babies and mums in the Central Lancashire and Chorley area.  With Baby Beat’s support, NICU (the neo natal intensive care unit) at the Royal Preston Hospital also provides care for premature and sick babies and their families from across Lancashire and South Cumbria.