To enter the Great North 5k visit: Greatrun.org/North5k
A woman whose dream holiday was ruined because she was so overweight has gone on to lose a huge eight stone and can now fit into one of her old trouser legs.
Mandy Norris, who is originally from Morpeth, Northumberland, described her her summer holiday to Marrakesh as a ‘nightmare’ because she weighed 18 stone and was a size 22.
Mandy, 46, gorged on takeaways and junk food and became so uncomfortable that by the time she went on a romantic summer holiday in Marrakesh, Morocco, she was so unfit that she was forced to miss out on an excursion to the Atlas Mountains.
She covered herself up with long clothes in the 30-degree heat even though she longed to be able to wear shorts and skirts and had to remain in the shade.
The disaster holiday was enough to shock Mandy into wanting to change her lifestyle and she vowed to her family that she would return to Marrakesh as a new person one day.
Mandy took up running with the help of her husband, Tony, and through exercise she managed to drop eight stone.
The super-mum tackled the Great North Run two years ago, but will run the Great North 5k, the day before the world’s biggest Half Marathon, in September alongside her daughter Kara and friend Nicola, in a bid to encourage them to take up running.
Mandy, who now lives in County Durham and is a size 8, said: “All my life I had dreamed of visiting Morocco but from the moment we landed I did nothing but moan.
“It was so hot, some days it hit 50 degrees, and I was so embarrassed by my size that I covered myself up with long maxi dresses when I longed to wear little shorts and dresses.
“One day we all went up to the Atlas Mountains but I had to stay behind by myself and wait for the in a café as I was too unfit and big to go and climb and walk with them all.
“I was so upset but this became a reoccurring feature. We went to all the attractions but I had to keep sitting down in the shade.
“I vowed I would return one day, slimmer. I did return two years later, still losing weight as a size 14 and much happier.
“I loved it so much that I returned this year and finally had the confidence to put on a pair of shorts and a running vest.
“I ran a marathon in Marrakesh in 30 degree heat and I couldn’t begin to describe how amazing it felt!”
Mandy began to put on weight after she underwent four operations on her spine and struggled to get into exercise during her recovery.
She began to rely on food and would think nothing of tucking into the likes of sweets, chocolate and take away meals on a daily basis.
By the time the family went on their summer holiday of a lifetime, Mandy had reached 18 stone.
After the turning point in her life, Mandy fell in love with running and now sports a slim size 10 figure.
She ditched the takeaways for homemade stews and the chocolate for fresh fruit and vegetables.
The Great North 5k on Saturday 10 September is the perfect way to kick off one of the biggest sporting weekends in the North East's calendar.
Runners start on the Newcastle side of the River Tyne and follow a scenic route over two of the Quayside’s 7 bridges, the Swing Bridge and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.
The 5km route sets runners up for the day, where they can enjoy the the Junior & Mini Great North Run, the Great North CityGames and the Pasta Party later in the day before the Great North Run on Sunday 11 September.
Mandy added: “I’ve had 4 spine operations and always used that as a reason as to why I was fat but it was just an excuse, the reality was I was lazy and couldn’t be bothered!
“I still eat loads now but because I run I burn it off and it is a lot more healthy.
“I always try to make lots of home made food such as stews and soups with more fruit and veg, but I still have treats which is important.
“I am running the Great North 5k with my daughter Kara and friend Nicola, both are non-runners and don’t have the confidence to run it alone so I said I would come along with them.
“They will be walking some of it but that doesn’t matter, I’m just so proud they are having a go.
“Life is great now –just wish I discovered running years ago!”
Entries for the Great North 5k are open, to join Mandy on the startline visit: Greatrun.org/North5k