Catherine’s run in memory of her mum makes latest marathon challenge a very personal mission
“My partner Chris and I came to see mum in the garden at the Hospice after I’d run the Edinburgh Marathon last year. I showed mum the medal and she said, ‘This is my medal’ – it really cheered her up.”
When Catherine Macnaughton runs the Prague Marathon in May, it won’t be her maiden attempt at the ultimate endurance challenge. It will, though, be the first time she has taken it on in memory of her beloved mum, Heather.
Catherine has raised money for several charities on previous runs but this time she will be gathering funds for St Margaret of Scotland Hospice, where Heather spent her final days between May and July last year. She had been diagnosed with stage four stomach cancer in November 2016.
Catherine, from Anniesland, recalled when doctors advised the family it was time to seek palliative care for her mum.
She said: “People told me St Margaret of Scotland Hospice was the first hospice in Scotland, that it was fantastic and that Mum would be in safe hands.
“We visited and I thought, ‘This is perfect’. Everyone is very upbeat and caring and they put the person first.”
Catherine, 42, found her first impressions held true after Heather had been admitted.
She added: “Every single person I spoke to – the lady giving out tea and coffee, the staff in the restaurant, the gardeners – they were fantastic.
“The nurses are so gentle and encouraging. The physios took mum to the sensory room and she enjoyed that.
“In the gardens, it’s so restful and peaceful, and the roses and other flowers are beautiful.
“Sister Rita came to speak to Mum, along with Sister Kate – they were very nice and very helpful.
“Everyone was great. They put patients and families first and did everything they could to keep us comfortable. When we needed our spirits raised, they would always have a joke or something to make us feel better.
“We are very grateful for everything they did for my mum and for other people too.”
The standard of care shown would not have been lost on Heather, who was 72 when she passed and had spent her working life as a radiographer with “a lovely manner” around people.
Catherine explained: “Mum knew what it was like to care for people. She worked in the Western Hospital in the mid-to-late 70s.
“Then she moved to Erskine Hospital. She came to Scotland in 1974 and was here for 44 years. She worked in Manchester Royal previously and wanted a change of scenery.”
Choosing Prague as the place for pay tribute to her mum – her seventh marathon in total, with another to come in Berlin later this year – was an easy decision for Catherine.
As well as being inspired to raise funds for the Hospice, she also had deeply personal reasons for adding to a bulging bucket list that includes two marathons in Edinburgh, three in Berlin and her first, in London, which she completed three years ago.
Catherine said: “I thought Prague was somewhere Mum would love to go. She was from London and she came with me when I ran the marathon there – she was so proud.
“Prague had always been a place we had intended to visit. It looks beautiful. So I decided to do the run in memory of my mum, and for the Hospice, and thought it would be a really nice place to do it.”
Looking ahead to the big day, 5 May, Catherine has several goals in mind – and some strategies to keep focused on them as the pain starts to build.
She added: “I’ll keep thinking of something positive – what I’m going to enjoy or have as a treat when I finish, a warm bath, reading a book.
“I’ll be telling myself, ‘Come on, you’re doing this for a charity… this is your target… this is important.’
“I think the atmosphere is going to be amazing – getting to the start line and seeing everyone around you. Seeing all the buildings and architecture.
“I’m so grateful to everyone for their support. When I get near the finish line and when I see Chris at the end, I’ll be very emotional.”