Budleigh nurse’s invitation to run a marathon a week in the race to find a coronavirus vaccine

Running a marathon a week until a coronavirus vaccine is found is a challenge set by a nurse from Budleigh Salterton.

Debbie Newson, aged 45, has been joined in her quest to raise £10,000 for vaccine research by members of Budleigh Runners.

The group are encouraging more people to take part in the challenge, running 26.2 miles a week until a vaccine is found.

Debbie, who originally planned a solo challenge, has set up a VirginMoneyGiving page so people can donate to the cause.

After taking a few months away from nursing to write a book, Debbie has been closely following the COVID-19 vaccine research being carried out by Oxford University.

She does not want to see coronavirus vaccine research stop through lack of funds and will not stop running the weekly marathon until a vaccine is found.

Debbie said: “It’s really important to raise the money. The more money they have got, the quicker they can get it out and more people can be saved.”

“A vaccine is the only answer. You can treat an illness and make people better but you don’t want them to get sick in the first place.”

She added: “I actually think there will be a vaccine – I hope there will be, otherwise I will be going through a lot of trainers.

“I am hoping in a year’s time it will be a different situation, otherwise I will be very fit.”

The runners began their marathon-a-week challenge on Saturday. Since then, they have been chalking up the miles – some running the entire distance in one go, or spreading the challenge out over seven days.

Debbie set off on Saturday, running the entire 26.2mile distance along the old railway line to Exmouth and onto the estuary path to Topsham, then repeating the 13.1miles home.


Pictured here on day one of the marathon-a-week challenge is Mitzi Cunningham, left, and Debbie Newson, right.

Married Debbie, who plans to return to work with the NHS 111 online service, said: “I really want to raise the money. It’s really important.

“We know that the only answer is a vaccine. That’s got to be the only way forward.

“We need as many people as possible to donate to the cause. I would like it to be a success and I would like to raise the money.”

Joining Debbie in the first week of marathon running were Franki Martin, Mike Shields, Mitzi Cunningham,  Rebecca Barnsley, Jane Shields and Jo Cooke.

The group paired up and adhered to social distancing rules as they pounded the pavements.

If you would like to join the run against COVID challenge, contact Debbie through the Budleigh Runners Facebook page, here.

To donate to the vaccine research fundraising cause, see here.


The Budleigh Runners group is inviting more people to join the challenge.


Pictured here is Debbie Newson.

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