IT'S fair to say that running is a real labour of love for intrepid mum Deborah Jefferies.

Deborah, 38, could have been forgiven for putting her feet up with just a day to go before she was due to give birth to her third child.

Instead, the North-East tax worker completed her 101st Parkrun in Darlington on Saturday while pushing her toddler in a buggy around the five-kilometre course.

Deborah, originally from Coxhoe, County Durham, but now living in Billingham, has astounded fellow runners who gather every Saturday morning in South Park.

Despite being about to give birth any day and pushing 15-months-old Caleb, Deborah finished the three laps of the park in a time of 47 minutes 47 seconds. Naturally, that’s well outside her personal best of 23 minutes 42 seconds but still pretty amazing.

“I just love running – it’s our little time out, it’s really nice,” said Deborah, who met husband Mike through their shared passion for athletics.

“It’s been getting harder every week because both the baby and Caleb have been getting heavier all the time.

“It’s good to get out and get some fresh air. Mike’s very supportive, but he’s been encouraging me to not go too fast. We’ve been running on a Monday as well in a social running group, but I’ve stopped that one, and stuck to the parkrun.”

Mike, who works at Up and Running – a specialist running shop in Darlington town centre – said: “I’m very surprised that Deborah’s still running this close to the due date, but she’s done very well to get her 100th parkrun in.

“Running has definitely been a big part of our relationship. It’s good that the kids will have running in their lives, and hopefully they’ll want to join in with Junior Parkrun when they’re big enough.”

Indeed, last Saturday also marked a milestone for Caleb because he was completing his 50th pushchair parkrun.

Deborah and Mike met through a Facebook group for running enthusiasts. “We got chatting on there, and started going out, and got married four weeks before Caleb was born. I was still running when he was on the way as well, but not as much as I am this time,” said Deborah.

Her mum Rosalind Gratton, who accompanied her for her centenary run a week last Saturday, is a keen runner herself and has completed around 70 parkruns.

“My husband runs as well so I had to join in just to keep up with him. I think Deborah is mad to still be running this close to the birth – but I think that’s just how we raised her.”

Deborah hopes to be back at the parkrun as soon as possible after the baby is born, walking the route for a few weeks to start with, and getting back to running as soon as the doctor signs her off.

Her next ambition is to run every parkrun within 50 miles of Billingham - while pushing Caleb and the new baby.

At the time of going to print, the delivery was still eagerly awaited but Deborah said: “Whatever happens, I'll be having a week off next Saturday!”

DEBORAH Jefferies wasn't the only intrepid athlete doing the Darlington Parkrun last Saturday.

Don't ask me why but James Swainston, 25, of Darlington, completed the run ibare-footed.

"I just like the feel of the connection on the ground and the sense of freedom," said James when asked for an explanation.

Whatever the reason, it's quite some feet, don't you think?

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