A MARATHON runner has set off on the first leg of her 9,000-mile journey to Easter Island.

Susie Stephen set off from Hummersknott Academy, Darlington, at 10am this morning (Friday February 14) accompanied by pupils from the school who ran alongside her as she set off.

Over the next 13 days she will run over 300 miles to Southampton before flying to South America to begin her cycle to Easter Island.

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The trip is a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 1914 Mana Expedition, the first archaeological expedition to Easter Island, with Mrs Stephens following in the footsteps of Darlington Quaker Katherine Routledge one of the archaeologists on the initial journey.

Mrs Stephen, from Darlington, is hoping that sponsorship for her journey will help her raise money for a sanitation unit for the island.

She aims to raise awareness of how households and businesses can lower their consumption of water supply.