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01 February 2019

When Jo’burg runner Debbie O’Leary decided to help sell raffle tickets to the 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon, she never imagined that she would actually end up being one of the two lucky winners to win not only an entry, but a full travel package to take on one of the most sought after international marathons in the world.
“I bought 3 of the tickets for myself and sold the rest to friends. I never thought in a million years that I would ever win! I was just happy to support the cause of raising funds for the develop runners,” says Debbie. After hearing that she won her emotions went from utter disbelief to pure joy, but one of the hardest parts of it all was telling all her friends who bought tickets from here that she actually won.
Luck of the draw
Though Debbie has been running for close to 10 years, she has never taken on an international marathon, and has only dreamt of it. Especially the Virgin Money London Marathon has always been a dream. “I have wanted to compete in an overseas event for a long time. As London is close to my heart – my Dad was born in the UK and my sister lives there – it definitely has been a bucket list event.”
Debbie runs with a group of runners from the Randburg based Rand Athletic Club (RAC), who organises a raffle to the London Marathon every year. At R100 a ticket and with only 1500 tickets available, tickets sell out quickly. Funds from the raffle tickets are utilised for development runners.
“Over the years I have bought a ticket. Last year I took a raffle book to sell – the tickets managed to sell fairly quickly, so I took a second book to sell. I bought 3 of the tickets for myself and sold the rest to friends. I never thought in a million years that I would ever win!”
The announcement of the winners was made at the 32km RAC Tough One race. Debbie completed the race and was just elated to finish what is often referred to as one of Jo’burg’s toughest races.  The last thing that went through her mind was that she should hang around after the race till the announcement of the winners was made. “We were on the way to friends when I received that call that I had won. Absolute delight and complete shock, I couldn’t believe that I could have been so lucky.”

The road to London
Debbie’s training is on track as she built up a good running base since last year.
“I have struggled a bit with my knees due to my lovely flat feet – but I am making sure that I address injuries as and when they happen. I’m also doing strength training twice a week.”
Unfortunately her husband and two children won’t be joining her on the trip, but she will be meeting up with her sister in London. “I would love to aim for as close to 4 hours as possible, and at the same time lap up the experience and the scenery,” says Debbie.


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