Running a marathon for the first time can be an experience of mixed emotions – exhaustion, regret, exhilaration, enjoyment, and even a sense of achievement – but for one extraordinary woman, there was one overriding feeling.
“Pain”, says Claire Kulisa, a mother from Caerphilly who ran the Manchester Marathon on Sunday, April 2.
“It was going pretty well for my first marathon, and I was looking good for a finish of around three hours 40 minutes.
“But at around mile 17 or 18, my foot rolled over. It was pretty painful, and I stopped and thought ‘I’ve blown it’, but I carried on to the end.”
The 39-year-old put her injury down to an ankle sprain, but after visiting Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr, was hit with the news she had a broken leg, having snapped her fibula.
She added: “I was determined to finish, I’d even have crawled if I had to. So I half-ran, half-hobbled my way over the line and was pretty emotional at the finish.”
Having given up a career as a research scientist three years ago to care for her autistic daughter, Lily, Claire ran the marathon to raise money for a sensory den at Machen Primary School. At the time of press, more than £1,400 has been donated.
Claire said: “We’ve been very lucky in that my daughter receives a lot of one-to-one help with teaching assistants at the school, and we work quite closely with them.
“Others aren’t so lucky, and the school’s requirements for pupils with additional needs have increased. There’s no space in the school for a separate room where those pupils can go if they’re struggling or are getting frustrated.”
The sensory den structure is being provided by Newport company, Asset International, meaning that money raised will go towards furnishing and decoration.
Claire added: “There’s lots that I can’t fix or help, but this is one practical way that I can help the school. I’ve been overwhelmed by the local community’s reaction to my broken leg, and have been offered lifts, food, and help, which shows what a great community spirit we have in Machen.”
To donate, visit goo.gl/zEEqU5.