Stenhousemuir sisters’ marathon effort in memory of brother

Denise Burns with a picture of her late brother Gareth Aitken
Denise Burns with a picture of her late brother Gareth Aitken

Two Stenhousemuir sisters with no previous athletic experience completed a grueling marathon to raise money in memory of their late brother.

Denise Burns and Danielle Aitken put themselves through months of intensive training for the Loch Ness Marathon.

Their hard work paid off as they made it safely across the finishing line at the event on September 28.

The sisters decided to run a mile for each year they spent with their younger brother Gareth Aitken, who was killed at work in August 2012 aged just 26.

Gareth, a linesman working on electricity pylons, died near Inverness. Investigations into the circumstances of his death are on-going.

“We are quite a close a family and it had a terrible impact on us,” said Denise (33), a travel advisor.

The sisters chose the Loch Ness race as Inverness-shire was the location of many happy holidays in their childhood, and they hoped to raise money for two charities. But then the hard work began.

“I had never ran before, and when we started training in September 2013 I could only run once round a 400m track,” Denise said.

“I had to train four times a week, which involved a lot of jogging and power walking and also building up my distance every week.

“It was difficult squeezing in the training with having two children to also care for.”

But all the effort was worth it, she added.

“The marathon itself was amazing. It was a day that will stay with me forever,” she said. “There was a fantastic atmosphere on the day and we had great support.

“The first 20 miles went well but the last six were a bit of a struggle for myself due to dizziness. Knowing I had came so far, I wasn’t about to give up. The highlight of the marathon was seeing my children about 100m from the finish - they ran along beside me at the other side of the barrier to the finish line.”

The sisters have raised around £700 for British Heart Foundation, which has supported other members of their family, and World Horse Welfare.