FORMER North-East bus driver Sharon Gaytor is celebrating after smashing the women's world record for running from Land's End to John O' Groats - by almost 18 hours.

The 42-year-old asthmatic ran into John O' Groats at 11.22pm on Friday night, 12 days, 16 hours and 22 minutes after leaving Land's End.

"The relief not to have to run in the morning is incredible," she said. "I have enjoyed being an international athlete but now I'm a world record holder."

She was determined to finish before midnight in order to mark her husband Bill's 45th birthday yesterday.

"There was never a time when I thought she wouldn't do it, but it's been a very long 837 miles," said Bill, a lorry driver.

Sharon, from Guisborough, east Cleveland, ended the run by breaking through a finishing line of toilet paper stretched between her two support vans.

The run broke the previous record, set in 1995, which was 13 days, ten hours.

She has averaged 65 miles a day since leaving Lands End at 7am on September 3.

Support team member Alan Young said she had been undeterred by some typically wet Scottish weather over the last two days.

"Sometimes she has had as little as three hours sleep a night. She really is phenomenal," he said.

Sharon recently gained an MA in Sports Science and Physiotherapy but is presently unemployed.

She has been an international athlete since 1994 and UK 24 hour record holder for ten successive years.

"I wanted to do something really to be remembered by" she said.

"I just had the feeling that I'd been pootling about, never really making my mark on history. It could be a very long time before this record is broken".