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Race for life


   Charlotte Marsden came along to the first bootcamp I ran in Portishead along with 23 other people looking to get fitter, leaner and healthier..and right then she became a challenge to me!!  She'd been coming along for a few sessions when she started to slow up bit and found she had real difficulty running as she had a pain in her foot. She soldiered on until she could hardly walk but still she wanted to keep coming. Then on this one particular occasion she said "I love it Donna, but I'm not sweating very much!"  

  "Really, Charlotte!" I replied, "That's because you're not doing the cardio side of it!" So I had a little think and asked "Charlotte, can you ride a bike?"

  "Yes I can." She replied.

  "Right," I said, "you'll sweat next time, I guarantee it!"

  So Wednesday  bootcamp came around and I loaded my mountain bike on the back of my car at 5:30 in the morning and headed off for Portishead. They all turned up ready for action, chomping on the bit to get started and I turned to Charlotte and said, "That's for you - you're not allowed to change gear and you have to stay ahead of the rest of us!" She rose to the challenge, we warmed up and Charlotte hopped on the bike. We were doing sprints that day and I had set the bike in a really low gear, Charlotte got on that bike and started off across the park. She'd been going for about 10 minutes, jumping off the bike to perform the body weight exercises with the rest of the crew and then straight back on the bike and off across the park again. Her legs were whizzing round like Catherine wheels, the bike was just staying ahead of us and the sweat was lashing off her. "You're sweating today Charlotte!!!" I shouted at her chuckling. She looked at me with this huge grin on her very pink face and just nodded - mission accomplished! And that's how we did it that whole bootcamp and every session she worked her socks off.

  At the end of the 4 weeks we have a weeks rest and I must admit I was very disappointed when Charlotte didn't join up again, but the pain in her foot was restricting her so I could understand a bit of time off. That was back in July 2011.

  I didn't see Charlotte again for a few months, then in February 2012, Charlottes name came up on my bootcamp list. "I remember Charlotte" I thought. At the first session, we were getting reacquainted and she said, "Do you remember that pain I had in my foot?"

  "Yes" I said. SHE HAD BROKEN A BONE IN HER FOOT!!!! She had still done a month of pretty hardcore bootcamp with a broken foot!         Then I realised just how hardy this lady was and I was looking forward to putting her through her paces! It was great to have her back on board. Charlotte kept coming to boot camp all year. She hardly ever missed a session and at the end of every month when it came to sign up again, there was Charlottes name heading the list. She got fitter, stronger and leaner and I had to progress the exercises to keep up with her fitness level. Whoever Charlotte was teamed up with, she would shout encouragement and egg them on to do their best. People liked being Charlottes team mate! She was great fun and made them give their all!  

  October came round and there was Charlottes name once again, top of the list. Mornings were getting darker and colder but there we were still working hard on Portishead sea front. Then about half way through the boot camp Charlotte came to me at the end of the session and said, "I just dont know whats wrong Donna, Im so tired all the time, Im just not running right and Ive been put on iron tablets."    

  "Just take it easy Charlotte, go at your own pace, and break when you need to!" I said. She took it on the chin and hard as it was for Charlotte, she took it that little bit easier for the rest of the month.

  November came round and the new boot camp and I got a call from Charlotte. "Im going to miss boot camp this month and get myself sorted out Donna. I need to get over this and I'll be back fighting fit in December." I agreed it was a good idea.  

  The following month, although none the wiser, Charlotte still wasn't 100% and needed to miss it again. I was gutted. But I told her to feel better soon and perhaps in the New Year, I'd see her then.

  Around 3 weeks later, it was the week before Christmas and I got a phone-call from a mutual friend, Emma. "Can I come and see you Donna I need to talk to you?"  Emma came round and dropped the biggest blow I've ever had. Charlotte had been diagnosed with secondary cancer of the liver and they couldn't find the primary site. I was totally floored! CHARLOTTE LATHAM? ..ARE YOU SERIOUS?!!

  Charlotte is a fighter, Charlotte gives everything her all and Charlotte does not quit  and thats why I'm doing the RACE FOR LIFE  to support Charlotte and let her know I'm behind her all the way!

SADLY, Charlotte lost her fight and passed away on Friday 28th June at 6:15pm. She is no longer in pain and her suffering has ended. Our hearts go out to Chris, Seb and little Liv at this very sad time. You're all on our minds and in our hearts - Charlotte, we love you. X

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