A mum-of-three from Chorley is defying all the odds to run the London Marathon – after losing half her body weight.
After shedding 11 and a half stone in three years, Maria Doherty, 45, of Draperfield is preparing to run the 26 miles in London, on April 22.
Having raised nearly £2,000 for The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, she has managed to raise awareness of the charity, as well as of her own triumphant story.
Maria, who is married to Dave and mum to Iain, 24 Chris, 21 and Stephen, 18, said: “I wanted to prove to myself you could be a size 28 and still manage to run a marathon.
“It’s never too late to lose the weight.”
The battle to slim started three years ago when Maria topped the scales at 21 stone 10 lbs.
Desperate to lose weight, she attended a ladies-only gym and through taking care over her diet lost five stone.
She said: “I realized quite quickly that if I didn’t tone up, all would be saggy.”
After her weight loss slowed then stopped, she joined Shaw Hill Golf Club gym and, with professional help, managed to lose a further six and a half stone.
She said: “Keiron, my personal trainer managed to help me lose a further six-and-a-half stones. “It was Kieron who convinced me I was capable of doing the marathon, and has trained and advised me all the way.
“The other members there are absolutely fabulous, all shapes, sizes, ages, and definitely non -judgmental. Everybody has given me so much support and encouragement.”
Maria, who is an office manager at national painting company the Bell Group, then began running, and completed her first 5km race last July.
She said the run showed her she could do it. More recently, she completed a 20-mile run in Hull, and has received donations from various people since to support her London Marathon.
She said: “I didn’t believe I could do it.
“They were fantastic with me, it’s gone absolutely perfectly.”
Maria, who now weighs 11 stone, will travel to London on Thursday, before running the marathon on the Sunday.
She expressed gratitude to her supporters, and said she couldn’t believe how many people have viewed her site and been inspired by her story.
She added: “I didn’t realise how many people used me as an example.”
But, she said she couldn’t have done without help from her family.
“My husband Dave has been a great support. “When the weekend runs have become longer, he has driven around my running routes, and parked up every mile to pass me water, gels and just to make sure I was okay.
“ It was very reassuring to know that there was help if I needed it.”
Maria is raising money for the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, which provides support to carers who have little or no experience, informing and helping them.
To support Maria visit www.justgiv ing.com/Maria Doherty.