Dogged determination from Wheathampstead London Marathon runner

Joanne Gooding with her spaniel Harvey who she has trained with for the London marathon holding a ne

Joanne Gooding with her spaniel Harvey who she has trained with for the London marathon holding a newspaper clipping of her mum doing the same 30 years previous - Credit: Archant

FOR two generations of marathon runners, training with a furry, four-legged friend is the only way to prepare for the big day.

Jo Gooding, 41, of Wheathampstead, turned to her loyal dog Harvey for a running companion for the London race this year, just as her mum did with her own dog Ben 30 years earlier.

Grandmother Sheila Allen, 66, trained with her pooch for the third ever London Marathon in 1983, a time when there were only around 16,000 people running it.

Her daughter Jo said: “Now there are 70,000 people. Everybody knows someone that’s done it. The time she did it, it was unique.

“She’s very excited about me doing it and has always wanted me to.”

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In addition to following in her mother’s footsteps, Jo said initially she was just trying to be clever and do two things at the same time, combining her chocolate brown Springer spaniel’s walk with her run.

She said of her training: “I’ve done all the hard work now. I did 21 miles the other day.”

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Jo, who works at Roundwood Park secondary school, has already done a half marathon and walked a full marathon, adding: “I think it’s much harder to walk it than run because it takes so much longer.”

The mother-of-two will be dressing as Wonder Woman to complete the course and said: “I’m very excited actually. So many people I’ve spoken to have said its just such an experience and atmosphere.”

Her husband, 11-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son will be heading down to London to watch and celebrate post-marathon. Jo added: “I’ll be on such a high.”

She is fundraising for Young Epilepsy, a charity which helped her friend’s daughter. To donate visit

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