A ROMANIAN woman living in Shetland is running in one of the world’s top marathons to raise money for Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary.
Ramona Barton will celebrate her 42nd birthday the day after she takes part in the 42km race in Berlin on 16 September.
Incredibly, Barton has only been in training for six and a half months after 20 years of doing no running, and gave birth to a daughter Niamh only 10 months before she started training in February.
Barton, who holds down two part-time administrative assistant jobs, has squeezed in her training along with work, motherhood and housekeeping.
But she says the fantastic summer spent pounding the roads between Burra and Vidlin has given her the chance to see loads of scenery and her beloved wildlife as well as listen to dozens of albums.
Barton said: “I am very confident, excited and terrified whether this can be possible. I want a medal!
“I want my baby to be proud of her mummy. It’s been a struggle to combine this with work, house work and looking after the little one. I have had no time left for anything else but hopefully I will achieve something most people would not consider.
Barton has set a £500 goal for money for the sanctuary and is already half way there. She has set up a Just Giving page and has sponsorship forms for the marathon in the Skellister Stores near her home in South Nesting.
“Every pound counts and every pound will make a difference,” said Barton. “I have had the huge support of Pete and Jan (Bevington – who run the Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary) and they were over the moon about what I am doing.
“This is to help with the fantastic work they do for the marine mammals in Shetland.”
She also hopes the work of the likes of the sanctuary will help ensure Shetland’s wildlife is preserved for her “beautiful” daughter, when she reaches Barton’s age.
It was love of Shetland’s wildlife that persuaded Barton and her husband Tom, who is from the Edinburgh area, to move to the isles over five years ago. Prior to that the couple had been living apart in Bucharest and Edinburgh.
Barton, now a fluent English speaker, improved her English a lot after she came to Shetland. She is presently learning the Shetland dialect names for birds.
She described the training as a “punishing physical challenge” that has resulted in a lot of spaegie.
The Bartons and Ramona’s parents in law will travel to Berlin on 12 September and plan to take in the sights before the big day on Sunday. The marathon, involving over 40,000 competitors from 137 countries, will start at the Brandenburg Gate and finish 300 metres beyond the gate.
Barton said: “It’s taken me six and a half months to get to this level. I’m hoping it’s a good enough level for me to finish strong and healthy.”
Barton lost two stone in training, including all the weight she had put on in pregnancy. Her training programme, developed by American running guru Hal Higdon, has seen her run distances up to 20 miles at a time – still six short of the full marathon.
“The Berlin crowd are supposed to be great. Hopefully, being surrounded by very noisy Germans I will be able to cover the whole distance. It will be a huge achievement for me to finish it,” she added.
When Barton decided to set herself the marathon challenge, she wanted to take part in one of the “biggies”. She had applied five times for Berlin before being accepted, ironically just after she had given birth and was in a poor place for the race.
Being a mother has had its own peculiar challenges for training as she has had to try and feed Niamh before running in order to feel more comfortable. When running the Edinburgh half-marathon in May she had to express milk herself in the empty men’s changing room before taking part.
The reason she has decided to share these personal experiences is to show that anyone with sufficient drive and determination can achieve the unlikely.
According to Barton, Shetland is a tough place to train for any outdoor event, with weather and hills, but this summer has been exceptionally kind.
On her training runs along “every road between Burra and Vidlin” Barton has been delighted by the returning birds in spring and seeing the lambs born and grow bigger. She has even seen the world famous orcas on her travels.
“Running is a crazy thing. You go out ready to conquer the world and the next day you are slower than the day before and you feel like dying. But it is also an opportunity to spend time by myself and clear up my mind and listen to some fantastic music,” said Barton.
The Just Giving page for the charity is at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/r-barton1