Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon: 81-year-old runner set for her 175th race

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An 81-year-old woman is preparing to run her 175th marathon this weekend, in honour of rugby league legend Rob Burrow.

Hilary Wharam, from Rawdon in Leeds, is one of more than 12,000 runners taking part in the inaugural Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon - but she will be one of the very few running two marathons in the same week.

The marathon, which is the first held in Leeds in 20 years, has been set up to raise money for motor neurone disease (MND) research after the former Leeds Rhinos player was diagnosed in 2019.

Hilary, who runs for the Horsforth Harriers club, told ITV News: "[I'm doing it] for Rob Burrow. For the cause.

"We lost a very important club member to the same condition, and it's very poignant."

Hilary started running 26 years ago and is aiming to complete 300 marathons.

She added: "I live alone. If I come out, I can talk to somebody.

"If I do a marathon all day, it's friendly company. It's seeing people that say nice things to me all day - what's not to like?"

She is not the only person running the marathon for a cause close to their heart. Maisy Attwood and Kayleigh Jackson are racing in memory of Paul Banton who died from MND in 2019.

Paul, from Hemsworth near Wakefield, had been diagnosed with the disease one year earlier.

His widow Vikki Banton was meant to run the marathon, alongside Kayleigh, but was injured in training, so Maisy stepped in.

Vikki told ITV Calendar: "Paul was the best person. He was funny, he was outgoing. He was stubborn, but he was kind - he would do anything for anyone.

"Then it slowly attacked his body bit by bit until he was trapped inside a shell."

While many people will also be raising money for MND charities, some are fundraising for other causes.

Steve Lightfoot, from Bramley, is running to raise money for research into his daughter's condition - infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy.

He said: "She can't really move much unfortunately. But she's continuing doing well, we can still get her laughing and smiling.

"We just hope to give her as good a quality of life as we can really."

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