A COMMUNITY champion and sporting hero is celebrating her 50th birthday with a trio of fundraising challenges this summer.
Sonja Farish has worked tirelessly to make life better for her community, raising over £50k for various charities including Brathay Trust’s work with disadvantaged youngsters in the Furness area.
A leisure centre duty manager, instructor and swimming teacher, Sonja is also a role model for those taking up running for the first time. She set up a beginners running group, now the Parkside Panthers, in 2004 when she tackled her first marathon and she’s a dedicated member of Barrow and Furness Striders.
Sonja says her half century goal is to raise as much money as possible this year to support young people in Barrow and she is hoping people will join her by having a go at running at an event she’s organised on Saturday 14 March at the Furness Academy, Park Drive, Barrow-in-Furness. It’s open to everyone she says, with a race against the clock to run a mile, a children’s running race and six-hour running challenge for individuals or teams.
It’s all part of her countdown to a 10in10 challenge starting on Friday 8 May. Sonja will run the same marathon every day, for 10 consecutive days, around England’s largest lake, Windermere. Upon completion she will also become the first woman to run five Brathay 10in10’s since the youth charity established the event in 2007 as a fundraiser for their work. The last day of the 10 in 10 will also be her 100th recorded marathon and 50th marathon for Brathay.
And, just two days after her 10in10, Sonja will face her second challenge, to swim 10 miles in Windermere. Her third is to complete the Brathay 262 event, cycling 262 miles in 24hrs on Saturday 20th June.
Sonja said: “Getting into running has been so good for me, from the challenge of doing it and the fitness benefits, to meeting so many incredible, supportive people. I remember getting started and how much it hurt to run three miles but it’s amazing what you can achieve if you put your mind to it. I got a lot of help from Barrow Striders who ran with me in those early days. They are still an inspiration to me today. I also love to hear about beginners getting the running bug, encouraged by friends and other runners to keep going. Running seems to change everyone’s lives, it has a very positive impact,” added Sonja.
All profits raised from the track challenge event will go to Brathay Trust to fund their work with vulnerable young people in Barrow and wider Furness area. The charity says aver 20 per cent of children from Barrow-in-Furness are living in poverty; above the national level for England. In some areas of the district these figures rise to almost 50 per cent.
Brathay’s Delivery Manager for Barrow, Sarah Cubiss, explained how they are helping the area’s young people: “We work with young people living in care or on the verge of entering the care system with unstable or difficult family lives. We’ll inspire them to build their confidence and set goals to help them find employment and live independently. We also work with vulnerable young people, particularly girls, to build their confidence and self-awareness so they value themselves, stay safe and have positive, healthy relationships”.
Brathay’s Head of Fundraising, Scott Umpleby said: “There are many amazing people in Barrow who face daily challenges or do remarkable things for their friends, family and community and Sonja is one of them. We feel privileged to be able to offer a range of fundraising events that provide people like Sonja with a challenge which also supports their community.”
To find out more about Sonja challenge which starts on Friday 8th May and finishes on Sunday 17th May visit: www.brathaychallenges.com/events/running/10in10.
To sign up for a running challenge on Saturday 14 March at the Furness Academy, Park Drive, Barrow-in-Furness visit: https://app.lap.io/event/2020-brathay-track-challenge and to make a donation to the Focus on Furness Appeal by sponsoring Sonja please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sonja-farish-halfacentury