A Chesham woman is celebrating after joining an elite group of runners who have completed six of the world’s major marathons.

Hospitality services manager Karen Sweeting, who will start work at the new Royal Star & Garter Home in High Wycombe, was one of 38,000 runners taking part in the Tokyo Marathon on March 3, finishing the 26.2-mile course in four hours and 46 minutes.

She received the Six Star Finisher Medal, given to runners who have completed all six World Marathon Majors – London, New York, Chicago, Boston, Berlin and Tokyo.

It is regarded as one of the most exclusive race prizes in running, with less than 5,000 amateur runners listed in the world as having completed the full set.

Karen said: “It was a wet and cold marathon and the second half was unpleasant as I pulled a muscle. But I got there in the end and I’m so proud to have accomplished this goal. It’s overwhelming.”

She took part in her first marathon in 2002 and Karen has now run a total of 20 road marathons. Her best time is three hours and 56 minutes in Amsterdam in 2015.

Karen has also tested her endurance further by taking part in an off-road marathon and three ultra-marathons, which were also off-road and each a distance of around 33 miles.

She added: “Running keeps me fit and healthy and helps me stay focused. There are so many times when I’m training or in a marathon and it’s tough and I wonder why I’m doing this to myself? But that makes it all the sweeter when I cross the finishing line – I always burst into tears.”

Karen says there are several qualities required in endurance running which she will bring to her position at The Royal Star & Garter Homes.

She said: “You have to be determined to run marathons, you have to stick to your schedule and be passionate about it, and I think these qualities follow me into my life.

“I am certainly determined to succeed in this job. I take out all my frustrations when I’m running so I’m calm when at work. I’m single-minded and passionate about what I do.”

The Royal Star & Garter Homes is a charity founded in 1916 to care for the severely injured servicemen and women returning from the battlegrounds of the First World War.

It continues to look after for ex-servicemen and women and partners living with dementia or disability, with homes in Solihull and Surbiton.

The High Wycombe home will open in Hughenden Avenue in April.