SLIDESHOW: The Anna Verrico Half Marathon

The Isle became a sea of pink as competitors lined up for the Anna Verrico Half Marathon.

Hundreds of athletes of all ages pounded the streets to battle it out for top honours in the event.



The fifth event of its kind saw a sea of runners cover Epworth, Owston Ferry, West Butterwick and Beltoft as they took on the might of the 13-mile race.

The run, which also included a 1k fun run, was dedicated to the Isle’s Anna Verrico who lost her courageous battle with cancer in 2013.

Here, her husband Paul, explains how it all came about:

Two years ago, Anna and I shared a conversation before the race which was to be her final event. She told me that she was struggling to breathe. I mistook that admission as her wanting to avoid running. I still remember the way she looked at me, puzzled, and then laughed, ‘Have you taken leave of your mind? I was stating fact, not asking for sympathy or to be excused. Let’s do this.’

When the wave of well wishers and support got us to the start line and the buggy run began she grinned at me and said: ‘We probably ought to at least give them a little jog,’ and with that she started pushing a double buggy up Albion Hill.

We had nine weeks of horror afterwards, but as I approach the two year anniversary that moment of levity has been a constant bright light. It also epitomised one of Anna’s characteristics which I have always loved and admired : determination.

So this year, there was still some trepidation in the run up to the Anna Verrico fun run and half marathon. Would we have support? Would Epworth remember and care, two years on? Would all of those friends who had promised to bake, video and run actually make good on their word? What would I do if three or four hardy souls were the sum total of the well wish brigade?

And sometimes, you just have to ask the universe. Ask, believe, receive has become a maxim over the last few months. So I did. And you all demonstrated that one woman’s death need not be in vain.

The We Can Run relay team of 18 runners, many of whom could not run for 60 seconds consecutively until 8 weeks ago, captained by my friend Glyn Sparks (the Scunny Bunny) and supported by business owner Allison Smith and my partner Fleur Binnington, pushed Lucia around in 2 and a half hours.

And then the stories of those on the start line. Jon Chapman, a man who had run the distance a year ago in 2:11 and had since been on his own cancer journey, suffering debilitating sickness from 12 rounds of chemotherapy and losing several organs. A brave lad whose kids pelted around the fun run course and who we have supported throughout 2015.

Natalie Hunter, a mother of four from Newcastle with stage 4 bladder cancer – Team Verrico has supported second opinions. Natalie’s father did the half; Natalie was on the starter’s pistol.

A cake stall which sold out, manned by baked goods created by our local support and manned by trustees; random kindness from shops like JDs and the Co-op and the excellent organisation of Metres to Miles.

The numbers are just those – but Alessandro’s buggy came home in 1:56 (despite my little man getting out the buggy, taking a few steps going towards the market place and then face planting, grazing his nose because his legs were dead, resulting in floods of tears on the finish line) – the cake stall raised over £400 and the total sponsorship numbers look over £8,000. These are frankly amazing numbers and will enable us to answer a call to arms locally which I hope to be able to share in the near future.

The Anna Verrico half marathon and fun run epitomised its namesake – those who came did, at least, give each other a little jog…