Being blind from birth has never stopped Maggie Bowes taking on a challenge with her can-do attitude and ‘you only have one shot at life’ maxim.
And in that spirit, Maggie, aged 64, is to take on the London Marathon to raise much- needed cash for Leamington-based Guide Dogs.
Although she will be without the guiding paws of her dog Yuan, a Labrador cross golden retriever, the sixth in a 40-year line of service from her trusty guide dogs.
Maggie is already a veteran of triathlons, dressage competitions, half marathons and the Two Castles Run and last year did an 18-mile paddle down the Avon for Guide Dogs.
But she is putting in some serious training to finish the 26.2 miles on April 26.
She said: “I have always wanted to do it and if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.”
And with gritted determination she said: “I have every intention of finishing it – even if I have to crawl over on my hands and knees.”
Although she would love to run the marathon with Yuan, Maggie fears the crowds would be too much for him.
“With thousands of people there it’s not going to be safe for him. I would love him to be with me, but he will be with me in spirit.”
During the marathon, she will be attached with a length of material to her full-sight guide Tess Lukehurst, head recreational canoe coach at Leamington Canoe Club.
“The biggest problem with the marathon is the rubbish on the run. Entrants have their drinks bottles and have nowhere to put them except drop them on the ground.
“I don’t see any other problems, apart from possibly the crowds if they get too close to the runners.
“Some of my friends think I’m mad, while other say go for it. Most people think I’m sane enough.”
Every week she goes running with Tess, and Maggie also has other guide runners to go out with when she’s out with the Kenilworth Runners.
Maggie, who lives on the Woodloes in Warwick and before that in Balsall Common, is also a regular fixture on Newbold Comyn, where she takes part in the parkrun on Saturday mornings.
She said: “There’s a bit of steep hill and it’s a bit cross country. It takes about 40 minutes and is three miles.
“I love being able to move fast, but I know that this would not be possible without the help of my fantastic guides.
“Running is fun. It is an opportunity to meet other like-minded people and to share a laugh and a smile.”
Maggie used to work for NatWest and asked the bank for help with fundraising.
Leamington and other branches have raised £640 towards the minimum of £2,000 that Maggie has promised to raise for Guide Dogs.
She used to own a horse, has taught herself to play guitar, composed songs and performed folk, saying: “I would like to get more involved in folk clubs, but it’s the public transport problem of getting there and back.”
But she’s not one to dwell on being born blind and added: “If I set out to do something, I will give it my best shot. You only have one life – make the most of it.”
To help Maggie’s cause go to www.virginmoneygiving.com/MargaretBowes