A dance teacher from Huntington whose recovery from anorexia was aided by a moving letter from her boyfriend explaining why she needed to beat the illness completed Chester Half Marathon in an impressive one hour and 35 minutes.
Twenty-six-year-old Emma Stokes finished was the 27th fastest female on Sunday (May 15), smashing her target time by 10 minutes.
The former Tarporley High School pupil hit the headlines in January when she shared her inspiring story to raise awareness of eating disorders.
Emma’s turning point came when her partner Chris Weir penned her a list of reasons entitled ‘Why I want Emma to fully recover’, which ended with a surprise marriage proposal.
Emma, who grew up in Tarvin, entered the 2014 and 2015 Chester Half Marathons, but was unable to participate having been warned against it by her doctors.
But she decided to enter again this year and set about training with the ‘really supportive’ Chester Road Runners, whose advice and encouragement she has praised.
Emma said she could not believe it when she crossed the finish line and realised she had beaten her goal of one hour and 45 minutes.
She said: “My cousin was running the race as well and he is a good runner so I asked him if I could run with him to keep me going along the way.
“During the race we were chatting away and I couldn’t believe how quickly it was going.
“It was such a nice day and the support from the spectators was amazing, they definitely kept me going during the last mile up the hill.”
Emma explained that running has played an important role in her road to recovery and helps to clear her mind.
“My difficult days are getting less and less and I’m now realising what my body is capable of doing when you eat,” she said.
“Food is becoming less scary for me as I realise that it is not the enemy and just there to make you fat, and running has helped me with this greatly.
“It’s a time where I can unwind and just be free with my thoughts and practice the mindfulness that I get taught in my weekly therapy sessions.”
Next up for Emma is Southport Half Marathon in July, a couple of 10k races before she and Chris tie the knot in August and then Chester Marathon in October.
She also hopes to tackle the Virgin Money London Marathon in the future to raise money for eating disorder charity Beat, which would fulfil a dream she has had since she was little.