On Sunday 4th October, rain and wind swept up and down the country, providing less than ideal conditions for marathon running. Whilst the elite runners gathered at St James’s Park, all over the UK Ronners, undeterred by the weather, toed the line of their respective marathon routes.
In Windsor, Jemima Bird and Steve Denison took on the Dorney Lake marathon as their virtual London Marathon route. After many months of gruelling training, amounting to more than 250 runs, the pair were rewarded with a new PB each. Jemima broke her previous best by 17 minutes, recording a time of 3.25.50, whilst Steve set a 13-minute best of 3.18. Incredibly, they have raised over £5000 for the RPMF in their 40th race fundraising alone. It should be mentioned that they also raised over £4000 for the charity within their 2.6 challenge – wow! Keep an eye out for them next year as they plan to run the London Marathon in its traditional format – who knows what they can achieve in better conditions and a bigger atmosphere!
Jemima and Steve have been absolute heroes in their fundraising efforts for RPMF and Young Athletes during lockdown.
Meanwhile, in Leamington, Kenilworth and Warwick, Rebecca Harries was taking on her virtual London Marathon and raising money for the RPMF in memory of her brother Matthew, who had been a very talented runner himself. As is the case in 2020, things are straying a little from the traditional and Rebecca was breaking her marathon down into four legs within the 24-hour period. Prior to the event, Rebecca had admitted her own hesitancy about a virtual marathon, but it was great to hear that on reflection, she actually had a lot of fun (despite the rainy weather!)
It was a 5th marathon venture for Russell Bishop, but one quite different to his previous exploits. Though of course nothing like the crowds of London, he found the occasional beep from passing cars and cheers from fellow runners highly motivating. It was somewhat of an obstacle course, as Russell had to climb footbridge stairs, cross trainlines and navigate flooded roads. Despite this, he was able to complete the distance in 3 hours 59 minutes – only his second time below 4 hours!
On the streets of Belfast, Colin McMahon experienced more than his fair share of challenges during his 40th race. Terrible weather, cramp and an app which didn’t correctly record his distance could all have put an end to his race, but instead he dug deep and produced a great performance and fantastic display of support for the RPMF. His lifelong ambition of running the London Marathon may not have been what he expected, but it was certainly memorable. Colin took on the challenge by himself, which further demonstrates his brilliant mental strength to keep going on such a tricky day for running.
A team of Laura Stevens, Hayley Dunford and Ryan Lightfoot, took on the marathon distance in Twickenham, including as many parkrun courses as they could throughout their route. The team’s fundraising efforts extended beyond simple sponsorships, with Laura selling second hand items online and donating proceeds to the RPMF. To date they have raised over £1600!
For Kristie Denston, the weather was slightly kinder but the hills of rural Yorkshire were a suitably brutal introduction to marathon running. Running to inspire her two sons, Kristie has certainly done that, whilst inspiring many of us too. Of the race, she said “physically I felt strong, but 26.2 miles on your own is a mental challenge the likes of which I have never encountered before. I even rang my mum at 16miles to ask her to talk to me to take my mind off of things.” Despite not being able to walk today, Kristie looks forward to running the distance again, but this time with the team of Ronners…on flat ground! She also smashed her sponsorship target, raising over £1000 for the RPMF so far!
Erica Pearce-Howard was running for Ron due to her first-hand experience of financial constraints putting an end to her promising youth shot put career. She wanted to help ensure that others could have the opportunities she didn’t to follow their dreams. She, like many of the other Ronners, faced driving rain and strong winds as she took on the marathon distance by running laps of her local lake with no crowds other than her committed support team of two friends, who were armed with supplies and boundless motivation. For Erica, it was not about running for time but about raising money and taking on a challenge. As a result, she took the time during her effort to stop to talk to passers-by about the RPMF, which resulted in some added sponsorships. This was Erica’s first marathon and though the conditions put paid to her race plan, it is an incredible achievement to have completed it. Excitingly, she plans to run the London Marathon for the RPMF in April 2022 and we can’t wait to see what she can do there.
Over on the Isle of Wight, Allan Bridges too battled the elements. Illness and injury had plagued his preparation for the event meaning that his ambitions shifted from a focus on time to simply completing the race. He summed it up brilliantly – “what a hideous, fantastic, painful, joyful experience!”
On that note, it is brilliant to have had such an incredible team of Ronners representing the RPMF and it will be exciting to follow their journey’s up to the traditional London Marathon in either 2021, 2022 or 2023.
There’s still time to donate to each of them. Every penny raised will go towards supporting young athletes through our annual grant programme, which will be open for applications in the coming weeks. To donate to one of our Ronners, simply visit one of their Virgin Money Giving pages, listed below. Alternatively, to donate directly to the RPMF, click here http://rpmf.org.uk/donate/
Jemima and Steve – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/SteveandJemimasRunForRonMarathon
Rebecca Harries – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RebeccaHarries
Russell Bishop – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RussellBishop
Laura, Hayley and Ryan – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/RonsRunArounds
Kristie Denston – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KristieDenston
Erica Pearce-Howard – https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/EricaPearceHoward
Written by Ashleigh Spiliopoulou