A HIGH Wycombe mum who only took up running four years ago will have half an eye on the 2012 Olympic Games when she takes part in the London Marathon on Sunday.

Samantha Amend is looking to set a new personal best time when she takes to the streets of the capital at the weekend.

The 30-year-old mum-of-two has been getting closer and closer to qualification times for international competition – having aimed to get into this year's Commonwealth Games after winning the Marlow Half Marathon in November.

Since the Marlow Half Marathon she has run The Hague Half Marathon in one hour 18 minutes and won the Goring 10km race – and also won a 16-mile race after finishing eight and a half minutes before the next runner.

To help her chances she recently left the High Wycombe-based Handy Cross runners to join the Belgrave Harriers club.

Mrs Amend, a business account manager, said: “You get more national and international race opportunities and it raises your profile.

“I was hoping to get into the Commonwealth Games but I don't think that's going to happen. I'm starting to get more and more international races.

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“I'm aiming for 2012 – there's no reason why I can't. I have improved significantly since joining the club. I've really enjoyed it, it's the best decision I ever made.”

The last year has been tough for Mrs Amend, with her husband James unexpectedly dying shortly before her victory in the Marlow Half Marathon.

She said that had spurred her on to aim at taking part in the Commonwealth and Olympic games.

“There's never a dull moment,” she said. “I have had a lot go in my life and running is my saviour. That's what keeps me going."

Mrs Amend is aiming to knock at least five minutes off her previous best and complete the 26-mile course in under two hours 40 minutes.

And she added it was never too late to take up the sport – having only started running four years ago and taking time out from training to have her second child.

“People do feel you should be running when you are younger but you get stronger as you get older,” she said. “Some of the best male runners are in the mid-40s.”

Nine of her former Handy Cross running colleagues will also be taking part in this weekend's marathon.

Cheryl Sayer and Donna Howlett will be dressing up as the Queen of Hearts and Alice in Wonderland. Donna is raising money for the Rainbow Children's Trust and Cheryl is hoping to raise £2,000 for the Iain Rennie Hospice.

Other runners are Craig Atkins, Mike Bloaing, Phil Hutchby, Frank Sulcher, Grace Wilson, Margaret Moody and Ellen Haynes, whose 16-year-old daughter Melissa is a runner for the county.

Among the charities they are raising money for are the Lung Foundation, Dogs for the Blind and a Ugandan church with links to a church in Flackwell Heath.

Some of the runners will also be taking part in the Marlow five mile run on May 9 and the Wycombe Half Marathon on July 18.