Inside Emily's multi-marathon fundraising challenge
North Devon is more than just home for marathon runner and fundraiser Emily Martin. The sandy beaches, coastal trails and country houses across this special landscape have nurtured her well-being and provided a backdrop to the milestones in her life.
They’ve given her space to laugh and breathe, helped patch up family feuds, given her solace in bereavement, and provided inspiration for her training.
This year, Emily is taking on a mega multi-marathon challenge to 'give back' to the places that have made her who she is. The 21-year-old aims to run three marathons and two half-marathons to raise funds for coast, countryside, wildlife and heritage looked after by the Trust, and to keep ‘the amazing work going.’
‘Growing up in North Devon, you're constantly surrounded by National Trust land and properties,' says Emily. 'Whether it be a Sunday afternoon walk at Arlington Court, a training run at Mortehoe or summer adventures at Baggy Point. I have spent so much of my time in these places and they would not be there, in the amazing condition they are in, if it weren’t for the charity's staff and volunteers.’
" Being able to get out for a walk, some fresh air, a drink, some lunch; being able to get together for a moment or a whole day at the beach - looking back at all those times, it just would not have been the same without these special places."
Stepping up to the challenge
Emily has already completed the first part of her challenge, taking on the Bath Half Marathon in March. Her next event will be her first ever marathon - the North Devon Marathon in Woolacombe on 30 June - followed by three runs in Cornwall: the Rat Race’s Man vs Coast event on 6 July; the Eden Project Marathon on 13 October; and the Marazian to Mousehole Half Marathon on 21 December.
As well as raising money for the Trust, nursing student Emily wants to boost awareness of the charity’s work to look after special places while she races.
‘I hope that when spectators see me running it will make them think of all the things it took to make their favourite National Trust places perfect,’ she says. ‘I hope to make people stop and think about their nearby coast, rivers, mountains and forests.’
Space for reflection
The wild coast and historic homes of North Devon mean more than a great day out for Emily and her family.
‘I train for my events on all the coastal paths,' Emily says. 'Family disagreements are sorted over coffee and cake at the cafes and Boxing Day walks are at Arlington Court or Heddon's Mouth every other year.'
She says: ‘The past two years have been tough with my parents’ divorce, and to have all these National Trust places on our doorstep has been invaluable. Being able to get out for a walk, some fresh air, a drink, some lunch; being able to get together for a moment or a whole day at the beach - looking back at all those times, it just would not have been the same without these special places.’
A place to belong
Emily says Arlington Court, in her home town of Barnstaple, has always been her ‘go-to place for everything.’
‘It’s the hub of our family. It’s always, “We’ll go to Arlington” – whatever is going on. We went there when my auntie broke her back and sat in the café by the lawn, we take the dogs out for walks, and back in 2015 we took a family walk there before attending my Grandma’s funeral.’
‘The wilderness walk at Arlington is really lovely,’ she says. ‘It’s all under the trees and in the summer the ground is covered in bluebells. As you walk out, the lake just appears. I like to have lunch there before going to see the cows on the other side. Sometimes we see a heron nesting in the trees. You could spend hours there.’
Making a difference
We would like to thank Emily for her passion for special places, and for the money she is raising to make sure they stay special for ever, for everyone.