A mother-of-two who once “couldn’t even run to the front door” is taking on the London Marathon in memory of her father who died 10 years ago from heart failure.
Navinder Molyneux said her world “came to a complete halt” when her beloved father Dershan Singh Sandhu died.
It spurred her on, however, to raise money for heart research as part of his legacy.
The 39-year-old payroll administrator, who is part of the British Heart Foundation (BHF) team for the 2022 TCS London Marathon on Sunday, said she hopes her efforts can help gather the money needed “to help stop other families going through what we have”.
Ms Molyneux said she used to weigh 18 stone but lost around eight stone and has managed to maintain it for the past 13 years – something she is “really proud of”.
Her haulage driver father’s history of heart attacks and family history of diabetes motivates her to keep a healthy lifestyle.
Ms Molyneux said: “I used to be one of those people who looked at other runners and wished I could do that when I couldn’t even run to the front door.
“After my dad’s heart attacks I knew I had to make a lifestyle change when I started to lose weight.
“I was a mum to two children and couldn’t really run around with them or play with them properly because of my weight, and also I was very conscious of the diabetes history in my family.
“I knew that my days were going to be numbered if I didn’t make some changes.”
Ms Molyneux said she did not have a “real regime or drastic diet” but began to eat a more balanced diet with smaller portions and start exercising more, including walking “round the block” with her children.
“Slowly I felt better and the weight was coming off,” she said.
“Fast forward to me deciding I wanted to run a marathon. I decided to do that because when my dad was younger he was actually quite athletic.
“He was a runner and played football and was fit and healthy. I knew it would be a real challenge for me but I really wanted to rise to it.
“I started by doing a local 10k and trained for that and then set my mind to training for a marathon. I knew this would be the way I’d want to commemorate my dad’s life.
“I remember him running miles and miles when I was little and I remember sitting in the car waiting for him whilst he’d go running.”
Ms Molyneux, who is originally from Malaysia but lives in Surbiton, south-west London, said many of her friends were bemused by her decision to run a marathon and that the “penny finally dropped” for her mother when she “mapped out 26.2 miles so she could see how huge it was”.
Ms Molyneux said: “Most of my friends and family are in Malaysia and when I told them I was running this great distance the first thing they said was, ‘What for?’ “Culturally, exercise isn’t a thing in that community so that’s why I get that response.
"I was guilty of that attitude when I first came to the UK too and couldn’t understand the concept of just going out for a walk unless it was to go out to eat or for a coffee or a specific purpose.”
She said it has been difficult to cope with her father’s death, but running the marathon is a way to try and help fund heart research and help others.
She added: “It’s been very hard to come to terms with his death at such a young age. We were very close. But I decided I really wanted to do something as dad’s legacy to raise money for the BHF for heart research to help stop other families going through what we have.”
To sponsor Ms Molyneux, visit here