Woman who ran marathons dressed as fruit made an MBE

Woman who ran marathons dressed as fruit made an MBE
Sally Orange after being made an Member of the Order of the British Empire (Jordan Pettitt/PA)
PA Wire/PA Images - Jordan Pettitt

An endurance runner who has completed a marathon in every continent dressed as a piece of fruit has said she never expected to become an MBE for her efforts.

Sally Orange collected her MBE at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.

Orange, who is also a mental health campaigner, and has run more than 80 marathons raising money for charity said it was “incredible” to be recognised.

“Who would think that running around the world dressed as a piece of fruit would end up with me being at the palace?” she said.

“I’m the only person who’s run a marathon in every continent dressed as a piece of fruit.

“I did my first one in Antarctica dressed as a pod of peas, and I did my final one in Miami dressed as a slice of orange, because my surname is Orange.”

Sally Orange at Buckingham PalaceMs Orange said running is about the experience, not the finish time (Yui Mok/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Yui Mok

Ms Orange who has gone through “bad times” with mental health in the past, and “very nearly” took her own life in 2013, believes physical activity can be hugely beneficial.

The retired army major said: “There’s a massive crossover with physical activity and mental illness, I think it’s the endorphins, getting outside, being with people.

“For me, it’s not about the time in the slightest, it’s about the actual experience, that way it takes away any of the anxiety.

“If people say to me ‘what time are you going for?’ I say ‘the time of my life’.

“It’s about breaking the stigma associated with mental health, it’s more the purpose that I’m proud of it for.”

Running ambassador Charles Williams, also known as Charlie Dark, agreed that running was “great for mental health”.

Investitures at Buckingham PalaceCharles Williams (Charlie Dark), from London, founder of Run Dem Crew, after being made an Member of the Order of the British Empire (Jordan Pettitt/PA)PA Wire/PA Images - Jordan Pettitt

Mr Williams, who set up the inclusive running group Run Dem Crew in 2007, said he found out he was going to be made an MBE when he was in the airport, and his wife noticed an official looking envelope arrive.

He said: “When I found out I was actually in the airport on my way to New York, and my partner texted me to tell me that an official envelope had arrived.

“She said ‘I think I should open it’. She opened it and started crying, then she told me the news and I started crying.

“Other than holding my children in my arms for the first time, this is my proudest achievement.

“My family are really impressed, my teenagers are not very impressed by many of the things I’ve done, but they’re quite impressed by this.”

Mr Williams said he hopes his MBE will help him to open doors to continue his work.

“I see this as a key, it gets me into rooms with people who I wouldn’t normally have been given the option to speak to, it opens more doors to allow people to come and run with us,” he added.

“Running is great for your mental health, it’s an amazing confidence booster, and ultimately when you do marathons and races there’s no-one watching who wants you to fail.

“Once you run a marathon, there’s not many things in your life that you’re scared of.

“It’s a real affirmation of life, people coming together and cheering each other on to greatness.

“It’s been life changing for me, I fell in love with it and wanted to share it with as many people as possible.”

Mr Williams said he had no time to celebrate his achievement as he needed to go home and pack, ready to travel to New York and take part in the city’s marathon.

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