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Overcoming the odds

PROUD: Loretta Campbell-Allen

EIGHTEEN DAYS after completing a 10,000m race in Ethiopia, Londoner Loretta Campbell-Allen is only just starting to feel ‘normal’ again.

On the Sunday morning of November 25, the 41-year-old lined up with 37,000 other runners in Addis Ababa to run for charity, raising money for lupus research – the disease she lives with daily.

Campbell-Allen, a mother of one who works as a financial accountant for gold mining firm Nyota Minerals, found out about the annual race in the Ethiopian capital because her company is set to open a new mine there.

“My body has been completely ruined since I got back,” Campbell-Allen told The Voice. “Every bone in my body was aching, but it was an amazing experience – I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

“Close family were saying don’t go, if you get a flare up during the race, there’s no National Health Service,” added the accountant, who had never before visited the east African country.

Fitness

After having not done any training since the birth of her eight-year-old daughter, Campbell-Allen had only four weeks to get fit. She joined a gym, got herself a personal trainer and took up jogging in the park. “I got my fitness up to a certain level, but I still wasn’t really ready. The time ran out so I had to go and just do it,” she said.

Her condition which “causes rheumatoid arthritis like symptoms in [her] joints and extreme pain” did not flare up during the race. And despite the “searing” heat, Campbell-Allen managed to sprint over the finishing line giving her a time of two hours, seven minutes.

“Even if you have lupus, you don’t have to feel hopeless or helpless,” she said. “I went through a stage where I wanted to give up, I didn’t want to live anymore, I thought my life was pointless because there’s not a cure for this and I’m going to be in this pain for the rest of my life.”

However, Campbell-Allen’s outlook has drastically changed since those days. “Every day we wake up we’re lucky, and we should be thankful.”

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