Stevie lights the way

Morpeth Town Council's Office Manager Stevie Matthews has been selected as one of the Olympic torchbearers in Northumberland. Photo by Peter McCartney.
Morpeth Town Council's Office Manager Stevie Matthews has been selected as one of the Olympic torchbearers in Northumberland. Photo by Peter McCartney.

A MORPETH woman has become well known in recent years for her ultra-marathon exploits all over the world.

But the most special run of Stevie Matthews’ life will be just 300m long because she has been selected as an Olympic Torchbearer.

It all came about following a chance conversation between Morpeth Town Council Clerk Gillian Turner and staff from Morpeth-based Schweppes Abbey Well, owned by Coca Cola, who asked if there was anyone that deserved a nomination.

After getting into long-distance running in different parts of the UK, Mrs Matthews looked further afield and a trip to South Africa was to change her life as she has gone on to run in every continent and entered the 2006 Guinness World Records book as the fastest woman to complete the North Pole Marathon.

Despite all these experiences, the Bankside resident is very excited about her Olympic role.

“To think that the committee felt I was worthy to carry the Olympic flame is marvellous and I was absolutely amazed when I received the notification,” she said.

“I feel quite overwhelmed by it all because Morpeth is a running town and there are many members of Morpeth Harriers who have done wonderful things, hopefully some of them have been chosen as well.

“Even though I was useless at sport in my school days, I avidly watched the Olympics when they came around and I’m extremely proud to be representing the town and my country in the torch relay. I keep thinking it’s a dream and one day I will wake up.

“Before the event, I will practice running with a spade, as running with something heavier will give me more confidence when it comes to holding the torch.”

When taking part in the Comrades Marathon in South Africa 11 years ago, she met notorious ultra-marathon competitor Richard Donovan and then Runner’s World editor Steve Seaton, who introduced her to a range of interesting challenges across the globe.

The 60-year-old has run in South America, Australia and New Zealand, Antarctica, India, most of Europe, North Africa the USA and Canada among other places and she is taking part in the Jerusalem Marathon next month.

Many of her trips involve fund-raising for charities.

Mrs Matthews, the town council’s Office Manager, said: “I’ve experienced great enjoyment in seeing some breathtaking parts of the world as well as meeting some truly inspirational people, for example one of the North Pole Marathon runners was a blind man, which put my difficulties on the run into perspective.

“I’ve also made great friends for life. I met a guy from Australia and now his family are part of our family and vice-versa and we visit each other as often as we can.”