Ultra effort in South African marathon by Harpenden dance school principal

Philippa O'Donovan in the 56km Two Oceans Ultra Marathon

Philippa O'Donovan in the 56km Two Oceans Ultra Marathon


A dance school principal who ran 56km in South African heat has raised more than £2,000 for charity in memory of a dance teacher who died last year.

Philippa O'Donovan in the 56km Two Oceans Ultra MarathonPhilippa O'Donovan in the 56km Two Oceans Ultra Marathon

Philippa O’Donovan, principal of Harpenden’s Louise Sheaves School of Dance, completed the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon around the Cape Peninsular, Cape Town, recently.

The epic run covers 56km, or 34.8 miles, making it 8.6 miles longer than a regular marathon.

Philippa ran the ultra marathon in memory of dance teacher at Louise Sheaves School of Dance Mary Schon, who died last year from a brain tumour.

Mary taught many dancers at the school, the Harpenden Summer School, Tring Park School for Performing Arts, as well as examining ballet worldwide.

Philippa said: “Sadly in July she found out that she had a brain tumour and after a short and courageous battle, she passed away in December, leaving many the richer for having known her.

“Marie Curie nurses provided her family with invaluable help and support.”

Philippa trained for the race with the help of Harpenden Arrows Running Club and ran most of it with her twin sister Allie - who was getting married the following weekend.

She said: “Billed as the world’s most beautiful marathon, it certainly lived up to its name; fantastic views of mountains, beaches, cliffs, and a pair of rugby players running in South African flag speedos.”

She continued: “The feeling of achievement was immense; I managed to finish in five hours 43 minutes which was ahead of what I was expecting.

“We have raised far more money than I could have hoped for as well. Massive thank you to all who donated to Marie Curie nurses, so far this crazy endeavour has helped to raise £2,290 in memory of an inspirational lady.”

Harpenden Arrows meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at St George’s School Sports Hall at 7.30pm. Email info@harpendenarrows.co.uk for more details.

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