On Sunday 23 April 2017 around 40,000 runners will begin running the London Marathon. As huge a number as that is, it isn’t just a number. They are 40,000 individual people with 40,000 unique stories and 40,000 personal reasons to run.
Today at London Marathon HQ, we met nine unique people – eight of whom are running the marathon and who shared with us their #ReasontoRun
The London Marathon is the largest annual single day fundraising event in the world and raising money for a charity is definitely one of the top reasons people choose to take part.
We met Emmanuel de Merode – star of a deeply moving documentary called Netflix – who is the director of the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Emmanuel is fundraising to raise money for the families of rangers who have lost their lives in the park. He says;
There’s no safety net for the families of Virunga’s rangers, so we’re trying to build an endowment to look after our rangers”
Heather Stanning and Helen Glover – Olympic gold medal winning rowers – are both running the London Marathon for charity. Heather is running for the Royal British Legion Industries – who she tells us focus on getting veterans back into work, regardless of lifestyle choice or disability – while Helen is running for for the Brain and Spine Foundation. Helen says;
I had the idea to run the London Marathon as a personal goal and a way to keep fit but during my marathon journey, I have come to be so inspired by people’s reasons to run and by my charity that it’s now more than that.
Although the fundraising itself is hugely important to the charities supported, the awareness raised by an event like the London Marathon is invaluable.
Zamzam Farah, a Somalian former Olympian, tells us that as well as raising money for her charity The Running Charity she wants to send a message to young women that they can do anything they want. This comes after Zamzam received death threats and was forced to leave her country, just because she was a woman in sport. She said;
We might not be the same but we have to be equal. Whatever comes, we’re not going to give up!”
Two more runners raising awareness are the stars of the BBC documentary Mind Over Marathon, which aired on Thursday 20 April, Jake and Poppy. Both Jake and Poppy have suffered from mental health difficulties, including anxiety and PTSD, and are part of a group of ten using running and exercise to help deal with this. Their coach, Chevy, describes their group – who are raising awareness of the London Marathon’s official charity partner Heads Together – as “ten of the bravest souls” he’s ever met.
Poppy tells the room that without a doubt the hardest bit is “getting out the door” – a sentiment echoed by the others in the room, including Helen Glover! Jake adds;
It’s important to lower the bar sometimes. Of course it’s great when you’re doing your best, but you mustn’t beat yourself up when you’re having a bad day. Sometimes it’s ok to not go for a run!