Felpham business owner finishes marathon despite sustaining a concussion

Sarah Jouault with her New York City Marathon medal. Photograph: Derek Martin/ dm111619a
Sarah Jouault with her New York City Marathon medal. Photograph: Derek Martin/ dm111619a

Sustaining a concussion at the 21-mile mark did not stop Sarah Jouault from finishing the New York City Marathon.

The 65-year-old, who owns Dimitri Hair & Beauty Spa in Felpham, took part in the challenge on November 4 in aid of Chestnut Tree House.

Sarah Jouault, first right, with staff, from left, Debbie De Garay, Linda Leopoldo, Jennifer Howard and Adriana Piriu at the first of her four 'home-cooking days' on August 8. Photograph: Derek Martin/ dm1880943a

Sarah Jouault, first right, with staff, from left, Debbie De Garay, Linda Leopoldo, Jennifer Howard and Adriana Piriu at the first of her four 'home-cooking days' on August 8. Photograph: Derek Martin/ dm1880943a

She says she started the race ‘so well’ and was on course to do a time of four hours, 11 minutes.

Five miles from the finish, however, she had an accident and was 'thrown through the air'.

“At 21 miles I don’t know whether I tripped, or, well, I think I slipped on gel papers and then maybe slipped again, I don’t know, but I was flung forward,” she said.

She added: “I had a tremendous pain in my ear and I thought I was going to faint and then I thought I was going to get sick.”

Sarah Jouault at the first of her four 'home-cooking days' on August 8. Photograph: Derek Martin/ dm1880907a

Sarah Jouault at the first of her four 'home-cooking days' on August 8. Photograph: Derek Martin/ dm1880907a

Sarah, who lives in Selsey, says she split her chin open, sustained a concussion, and cut her hand and top of her knee.

A police officer came to her aid and was going to call an ambulance but spurred on by the money raised and the distance she had travelled she wanted to continue.

“When he said that he was getting an ambulance I was like, ‘No, I want to finish the race. I haven’t come all the way to New York and done 21 miles not to finish’,” she said.

“I literally just got up and ran away, because you’re not thinking straight. When you’ve concussed yourself you don’t think straight.”

Sarah ran to a medical tent where they put a ‘big bandage’ on her chin.

She says finishing the race was ‘very hard’ and that she had to walk at times but at the last mile ran all the way.

“It was a real mind over body – my body was screaming stop but mind was saying, you know, I’ve got to finish,” she said.

Sarah completed the race in four hours, 55 minutes, and had three stitches in her chin before collecting her medal.

Through sponsorship and by selling ‘freshly baked’ items on four ‘home-cooking days’ at her Felpham Road business, Sarah has raised £3,000 so far for Chestnut Tree House.

The cooking days saw her make, among other goods, 500 sausage rolls, 200 bread rolls, 46 loaves of bread and 20 cakes, with Gaterell Butchers, in Felpham, donating all sausage meat for the sausage rolls.

Over the past 18 years, Sarah has raised money for a number of causes, mostly children’s charities.

New York was her fifth marathon – she has also run marathons in Dublin, London, and Portsmouth – and as a triathlete she has competed in a host of Ironman competitions.

The £3,000 raised so far takes her fundraising total over the years to about £127,000.

Sarah added: “I’m so pleased I finished and have the medal.”

“It was worth all the pain,” she said.