PUBLISHED ON: 15 February 2021

Since taking up running in 2011, Judy has taken on some crazy challenges all over the world to raise money for Breast Cancer Now – often while wearing a witch costume.

Judy, a white woman with dark hair, sits on a stone step in her witch costume

I’m proud to be a part of Team Now

My name is Judy, though my running name is Tiggy Bailey. That’s actually my dog’s name, but she generously allows me to borrow it for fundraising purposes.

Being part of Team Now allows me to carry out what has become a crusade for me. My mother raised money for cancer charities – not just breast cancer – and sadly later died of liver cancer herself.

I don’t know why she chose cancer charities in particular, but she was a nurse, and it became a very important thing for her to carry on helping people once she gave up her career. So, I’m continuing her work really.

I also have many friends who have had breast cancer, and have indeed lost friends to breast cancer, so fundraising for them is very important to me too.

I never ran when I was younger

I always wanted to do the Moonwalk for breast cancer – but I couldn’t run, not as a child or a young adult. However, I ended up having orthotics to treat Achilles injuries, and finally found something that allowed me to run.

Once up and about, I tried for several years to get into the Moonwalk – and finally did! Then, after that, I was thrilled to get a place in the London Marathon for Breast Cancer Now.

You spend so much time training for these races, and to actually give something back for such a worthwhile cause is so important to me. It makes it feel less selfish.

I’ve been everywhere from the North Pole to Antarctica

On a personal level, running means escape. I work with people all day long, so getting out and running on my own gives me a chance to get my head back in the right place and pound out the stresses of the day. The exercise also helps give me an endorphin high.

Combining it with fundraising gives my running more purpose. I get to take Team Now with me, and it makes the time and money I spend doing it more worthwhile.

I would never use charity donations to fund my running, nor go on any trips where meeting a certain fundraising goal allows a subsidised trip. All the money I raise goes straight to the charity, and I fund all my trips myself.

I’ve got to meet so many people doing this too. I’ve met extraordinary people and top-level runners on Everest, at the North Pole, in deepest Antarctica and many places in-between – but I’ve also trailblazed completely on my own.

I even ran a marathon on West Falkland, and that was ‘my’ marathon because I was the only one doing it. It was the first time anyone had run a marathon there.

Breast Cancer Now inspires me to keep going

Mentally, when I’m running, I’m thinking: ‘When can I stop?’ But when you actually do stop, you feel so much better, especially when going over a finish line. You need to experience it to believe it. 

However bad I feel, I consider it as nothing compared to what breast cancer patients are likely to experience. This allows me to ‘suck it up’ and keep going for that next mile and the next, until I am done.

To motivate myself, I listen to audiobooks while I run, and if I want to listen to the next bit I need to make myself go back out there. I’m also lucky to be very dogged: I know how running makes me feel and I know where it gets me, so that gets me out of the door even when everything is telling me I should have a day off.

Team Now are very helpful in inspiring you to keep fundraising and coming up with inventive new ways to do it. If you want to do a general knowledge quiz or a talk, they’ll provide you with materials to help, and are always open to new ideas.

They also let me have a look around their labs. When you go there, you see the guys working crazy hours, and you see how zealous they are in sharing their findings and pushing the frontiers forward. It's great to know that what you are doing helps to fund these amazing people.

Judy, a white woman with dark hair, running outside in her trademark witch outfit

My seven continents marathons were up there with the hardest things I’ve done

I’ve done quite a lot of public speaking about where I’ve been and some of the crazier marathons I’ve done. Some people are kind enough to say it inspires them, which is fantastic to hear.

My own goal with my running keeps changing. Every time I reach a goal, I set a new one. If there was a marathon on the moon, I’d be there!

I’ve just completed the alphabet series, which is where you do a marathon starting with each letter; I’ve done the six world marathon majors; and I think I would like to invent the world marathon minors (this would involve running marathons in the UK with the same names as the international destinations of the majors).

I have my own running club, ‘Running the seven seas’, the aim of which is to run a marathon on a small island on each of the seven oceans. I have only one left to do on this one.

In 2017, I ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. I find I actually do better if I do them in batches, but this was one of the hardest challenges I’ve ever done. Not much sleep, hardly any food, body clock all over the place and 45,000 flying miles. But it’s just an amazing thing to do. I mean, how often do you get to run with America’s best ever Olympic marathoner?

I usually run dressed as a witch

Many people ask why I run dressed as a witch, and many joke that it’s because I run in my normal clothes. Indeed, some people consider me a professional witch. I’m actually a veterinarian, but everyone thinks being a witch comes naturally to me. I even appeared as one in Harry Potter.

My mother was the seventh child of a seventh child, which means you’re supposed to have magical healing powers and are likely to be a witch. Most people would say I’ve inherited that.

I’ve also run as a pirate and a 1066 Norman on the way to battle – but my witch costume feels far more me.

Joining Team Now is so worthwhile

To someone wishing to join Team Now, I would say: please do. It’s a very welcoming team and any contribution is welcome and valued. Not everybody has to do crazy things; even a parkrun is worthwhile.

Personally, I am more designed to lie on a sofa and be fed peeled grapes than to actually run, and running itself does not come naturally to me. But the finish line is just the most incredible feeling. Nothing can beat it and it never gets old.

It’s worth all the pain and the anguish and the horrible weather for those brief moments, and raising money for Breast Cancer Now makes it all even better.

 

If you've been inspired by Judy and would like to take on your own challenge for Breast Cancer Now, take a look at our Team Now page and find a fundraising task that works for you.

Team Now