We spoke to one of this year’s RPMF Ronners about their inspiration and why they wanted to run for us. Caitlin holds a close connection to the fund and was inspired by her mum who has run countless marathons in the past. Scroll to read the full conversation.

Hi, I’m Caitlin and one of this year’s RPMF Ronners!

You had a close connection to Shaun growing up, can you tell us a bit more about his involvement and why he was such a vital figure in your life?

Throughout my teenage years, I was an athlete myself and competed in the discus. I found myself becoming English schools champion one year and towards the end of my caeer earning my first England vest! I trained at Loughborough and eventually went to university there too. I was privileged to be coached by Zane Duquemin as well as Shaun Pickering whose expert advice I was taught for 4 years, extending beyond just discus, to shot putt too. Despite Shaun not being my ‘main’ coach he was still influential in my progression as a junior athlete into my first England vest, and his technical advice was second to none. He was also a prominent figure during training sessions and competitions, and was always there to help younger coaches develop. It would be an understatement to say he was an expert in this field of athletics – he knew more about athletics than anyone I’d ever met – and his passion to nurturing young athletes was heartening. It is an honour to run this marathon in memory of him.

RPMF supported your sister (Niamh Emerson), is this another a reason you feel a close connection to the fund? 

So, where the fund itself holds a close place in my heart is their generosity and support for my sister Niamh, who would not be the athlete she is today without them. Niamh was not only a beneficiary of the RPMF annual grants but also the Jean Pickering Olympic Scholarship too, a large grant that was awarded to athletes who had Olympic potential. This, in turn, helped her reach some of her biggest achievements to date; World Junior champion, European Indoor Silver medallist and Commonwealth Games Bronze medallist. It allowed her to get physio from some of the best in the country, to go on warm weather training camps and compete in competitions abroad. My family will forever be grateful for the support RPMF has given us through Niamh. 

What was the journey like from being offered the place to now, being just 1 week out from the marathon?

So, fast forward a few years and I was offered a place to run for RPMF and in memory of Shaun. When it was offered though, it quite late in the year ⁠so it’s been a quick turn around to get into full swing of training, but admittedly, I have loved the challenge. Since I stopped competing in discus, I took up running casually and found a new love for it, so when I was offered a place I thought it would be a fantastic challenge and the London marathon is not something that you can turn down, especially when I would be running for a cause so close to home. Training has been going great and I am very excited to see the crowds and their support whilst I am running.

Did you have any other sources of inspiration for running the London Marathon?

Aside running in memory of Shaun, it has also been my mum who has been my source of inspiration for running this marathon. In the past, has run multiple marathons when I was growing up, from Nottingham to London to New York, so I am very proud to follow in her footsteps. It’s also such a special day as so many people are running for so many different charities and causes; there is little that compares to it. London is one of the most iconic marathons so to do it with all my friends and family watching, in honour of Shaun and a charity which has a close place to my heart, I cannot wait to get on the start line.