ATHLETES from a Wearside running club are dedicating their participation in this weekend’s Sunderland City 10k and half marathon events to a mum whose life was tragically cut short.
Not long after she signed up to run with Sunderland Strollers last year, Nicola Norton was training for last year’s half marathon run when medics discovered she had tumours in her heart and brain after suffering a stroke.
Brave Nicola, of The Broadway, near Springwell Road, had open-heart surgery at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital and a brain operation at the Royal Victoria Infirmary to remove the tumours.
The 38-year-old was then put on a course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment, but sadly died last month.
As a tribute to Nicola, members of the Strollers will be running with pink-blue-white ribbons, pink being Nicola’s favourite colour and blue and white being Stroller colours.
Harry Harrison, Sunderland Strollers club secretary said: “The ribbons have been put together by a couple of our runners and over £100 has already been collected in donations.
Nicola had a really wide sphere of influence and the outpouring of emotion from members when they heard she had died was really amazing.Harry Harrison, secretary of Sunderland Strollers
“Many of our runners, we have around 100 taking part, will also be donning the traditional Stroller face paint to display their allegiance. We’ve had Strollers with us for 25 years and Nicola only began last year. She had the target of running the Sunderland Half Marathon but it was only a few weeks after she started training that she was diagnosed with her illness.
“But despite not being a full member for long, she touched the club and has had a massive impact.
“Nicola had a really wide sphere of influence and the outpouring of emotion from members when they heard she had died was really amazing.
“We’ve arranged with the organisers that during the lead-up to the start of the 10k race, the announcer will bring everyone’s attention to Nicola and our tribute, the assembled Strollers intend to use that as an opportunity for a big cheer and applause.”
Members of Nicola’s family are also set to set-up a cheering point in Roker Park on the race route to support those running.
Mr Harrison added: “Thanks to a generous donation from a supporter of Nicola and Strollers, we will be presenting the Norton Cups to the winning athletic club’s runners in the forthcoming Pier to Pier Race on May 17.
“These will be awarded annually.
“Later in the year we aim to organise a fun running event which will be done in Nicola’s memory and raise further funds for St Benedict’s Hospice.
“Incidentally, the Just Giving page set up by Nicola’s sister has now passed £5,000, these funds will also go to St Benedict’s.
“This exceeds the £3,500 collected by Strollers for the hospice during a series of fund-raising events in December.”