A PUBLIC health doctor who suffered strokes when she was aged 21 and who has fought hard to regain her health in the decade that followed, will be taking on another gargantuan challenge for charity next month — the London Marathon.
Beth Smout will be running in aid of The Stroke Association, represented as part of #TeamStroke TCS London Marathon 2022, next Sunday, October 2 — aiming to raise at least £2,000 for a charity extremely close to her heart.
Gloucester-born Beth, who came to the Island when she was five, now lives in Bristol.
Beth works as a public health doctor, with a focus on infectious disease outbreaks, making the Covid-19 pandemic one of the busiest periods she has ever known.
The 33-year-old — who attended Carisbrooke Primary, Trinity Middle and Carisbrooke High schools — has certainly been keeping herself busy getting herself in shape for the London Marathon.
It will be quite a step up for Beth, who has twice completed the Great North Run twice, in 2018 and last year, which is half the London Marathon course.
Those two important runs saw Beth raise more than £2,000 for the Stroke Association.
“I’ve never run a marathon before, so it feels like a huge undertaking — but definitely on my bucket list,” said Beth.
“It’s also hugely emotional for me. I had two strokes in close succession, back in 2011, when I was just 21, so it’s fair to say I didn’t ever imagine my body would be capable of anything like this.
“As you can imagine, recovering from a stroke feels like a mammoth physical and psychological undertaking.
“One of those strokes was ‘classic’, with the slurred speech, the drooping face and one-sided weakness, while the other left me with significant memory loss — so much so, I didn’t even know my own sister for weeks afterwards.
“It’s been a long slog of a decade to reach this point.”
Beth started running in 2017, after moving to Bristol and needing to find something to occupy herself and support her mental health.
“I don’t know what on earth possessed me in some ways,” Beth continued.
“I’d never run before, am not a natural athlete and was quite scared of the potential risks of exercise.
“However, my cardiologist encouraged me that making it part of my routine would only be beneficial, so I signed up for a half marathon on a whim — despite being unable to even run for a bus at that point.
“I’ve honestly never looked back. Running makes me feel strong — but it also feels like an act of defiance against everything that’s happened.
“I will probably cry for 99.9 per cent of the London Marathon, but because it means so much to be able to do this, I want to celebrate achieving something that once felt completely impossible.
“I’ve been extraordinarily lucky in my recovery, thanks to the support of the NHS, organisations like The Stroke Association and an army of family and friends, with their relentless love and support.
“I now want to mark my own recovery and pay it forward to a charity, that did so much for me when I was at my lowest.
“These miles are for them and for everything they’ve done to make the impossible seem possible again.
“I’d be enormously grateful for any support towards my fundraising goal. As I’ve probably made very clear, this means a lot to me.”
Beth’s Just Giving link is: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Beth-Smout