A RUNNER who is following in the footsteps of an historic Darlington explorer has completed the first leg of her journey to Easter Island.

Susie Stephen began her epic 9,000-mile trip in mid February and has run the equivalent of a marathon a day to make it from Darlington to Southampton in 13 days.

Her intention is to celebrate the 100th anniversary of a 1914 expedition made by Darlington Quaker Kathryn Routledge who became the first female archaeologist to study in Polynesia.

Mrs Stephen also hopes her quest will raise around £20,000 to buy a unit to recycle water for Easter Island dwellers.

She has kept her followers updated on her progress via an online blog in which she described having to dodge flood waters in the south.

She also said she was inspired by thoughts of other long-distance runners such as Mark Allinson – aka Run Geordie Run – when the going got tough.

Mrs Stephen, who grew up in Darlington but now lives in Hawaii, will now take a recovery break before flying to South America to cycle 1,000 miles across the Andes from Buenos Aires to Santiago for the next stage of her Running after Routledge challenge.