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Runner rescued after hornet horror at 10k race

Woman went into anaphylactic shock after being stung 12 times

John Herring

John Herring


01635 886633

Runner rescued after hornet horror at Pangbourne 10k race

A WOMAN has praised fellow runners and organisers who saved her life after she was stung by hornets at the Pangbourne 10k run on Sunday.

Mary Galer suffered anaphylactic shock after being stung 12 times during the annual event. 

The 38-year-old said that she could have died if it wasn’t for the treatment she received from a quick-thinking marshal and a trainee nurse. 

Mrs Galer had run about 7km of the course and was at the Sulham Woods stretch of the course when she was attacked. 

She said: “I think it was a nest angered by runners in front of me. I remember feeling all these stings on my legs. When I looked down all I could see were hornets on my legs.

“Before I could do too much, within seconds I could feel my lips swelling, my throat and tongue.”

Mrs Galer said she tried to walk away, but had to lie down and later discovered that she had been carried away by fellow runners.

Race marshal Andrew Broderick kept her calm and reassured her. 

“I was kind of in and out,” she said. “All I remember is someone monitoring my heart rate and an oxygen mask being put on my face.

“There was a passer-by called Carly [Walker], she made me see it through… she gave up her race to care for me. 

“If they had not done what they did and laid me down I would not be here.

“I knew that I reacted to midges – they like me more than some people.

“I was stung by a wasp recently and my hand swelled up a bit.

“Never did I think I would go down like that.” 

Paramedics arrived and administered adrenaline, which Mrs Galer said saved her life.

She was taken to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, where Mrs Walker came with a Mars bar and her runner’s medal. 

Mrs Galer said that she had entered the race as she and her husband Nick own the Miller of Mansfield in Goring-on-Thames, which was a race sponsor.

She had run the race, which raises money for Pangbourne Primary School, last year and, as the Goring 10k and Reading Half Marathon had been snowed off, she wanted to keep active.

She now has to carry an epipen “given how I reacted to that scenario”. 

Mr Broderick had been walking at the back of the field of runners with a former organiser’s dog,

Sparky, who was also attacked by the swarm and had to spend a couple of days on a drip at the vets.   

Mrs Galer was one of 300 entrants who raised around £5,000 for the school. 

A former race organiser said that approximately 20 runners were stung by hornets. 

He said: “The majority made it to the end and were treated by the medics for stings. 

“One runner sadly needed ambulance attention following an allergic reaction and it was very worrying. Marshals and first aiders reacted at pace.”   

Race organiser Vicki Charlesworth said: "When we organise the 10k race our top priority is to offer our hundreds of runners an enjoyable and well-organised race, so we were delighted to hear that Mary is doing well after her allergic reaction.

"Friends of Pangbourne Primary Sschool, like all PTAs across the country, is run by volunteers and we are very thankful for our dedicated team of marshalls who ensured that Mary received the first aid she needed, as well as the other runners who stopped their own race to help Mary until she travelled to the hospital.

"It's a testament to the wonderful community of runners and volunteers who participate in this race that Mary, and others who were stung, were supported so well and we want to say thank you to all those who helped." 

Pangbourne Primary School headteacher Melissa Fry presented prizes and the male winner, Sam Upton, was just outside James Savage’s course record.

Sponsors included Woodborough House Dental Practice; Krazy Playdays; Davis Tate and 2M Property Maintenance.

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