Great North Run’s quest to have a runner from every country in the world has taken a step closer thanks to a barrister from Guyana.
Marcia Persaud, who will be running with partner Dan Dunleavy from Cleadon, moved to London from the South American country in 1979 with just £10 to her name.
After moving from the continent’s only English-speaking country, she went on to train as a nurse, gaining a PhD in Medicine, before becoming a barrister.
Marcia, 57, answered the call from Great North Run organisers to recruit a runner from as many countries from around the world as possible and will fly the flag for the country of her birth at the world-famous 13.1-mile run on September 11.
She will be completing her tenth Great North Run alongside partner Dan and will raise money for the Jarrow-based St Clare’s Hospice after the centre provided palliative care for Dan’s sister in law Shirley.
Marcia said: “It will be fantastic, it’s a really great opportunity to represent Guyana. I think it’s a fabulous idea – I’m so proud to be part of it. It’s a great feeling.
“Guyana is marking its 50th anniversary of independence this year so it’s a cause for celebration.”
Marcia has been living in the United Kingdom for 37 years, after moving from Guyana at the age of 20.
“I’ve lived here for 37 years now and in many ways I feel more British now,” she said.“In the last three years I’ve been back four times having not been there since leaving. My parents moved to Toronto so there was no reason for me to go back to Guyana, but my father sadly passed away three years ago, and he wanted his ashes to be scattered there.”
Speaking about what keeps her coming back to the world’s biggest half-marathon each year, she said: “It’s the atmosphere. It’s amazing. It’s the atmosphere that keeps us going. The people around the course are so kind and generous.
“We’ve raised money for St Clare’s for many years. They provide such brilliant care. Dan’s sister in law was looked after there. That’s why he started doing the Great North Run.”
A spokesman for St Clare’s Hospice said: “We are extremely grateful to have Marcia run for St. Clare’s Hospice. The hospice has been providing care to people with a life –limiting illness since 1987. Each year we need to raise £1.4 million through voluntary giving. We provide our care free of charge to adults living south of Tyne and also support their loved ones at a difficult time in their lives.
“Kind people like Marcia who has been doing the Great North Run for us for a number of years really helps to raise awareness and much needed funds and we
couldn’t be more grateful.”
•The Great North Run is broadcast live on BBC One on Sunday, 11 September, from 9.30am until 1.30pm, with highlights on BBC Two at 6pm.