I decided to sign up to the Greater Manchester Marathon last July. I had been running 5km each week at my local park for a couple of years and had just run my second 10km race at that point and thought ‘what next’. I initially hadn’t thought of doing it for charity – it was just a personal challenge that I set myself. However, a couple of people mentioned fundraising and after a little thought I decided I wanted to honour my friend Anyta who had been diagnosed with cavernoma and try and raise some money for Cavernoma Alliance UK. As Anyta is a friend I had made at work I hoped colleagues would show their support.
Training for the marathon certainly was a personal challenge. I had to get used to running 4 times a week. I even took my running gear to Majorca and had to set my alarm for 6.30am to run before the sun rose. A stark contrast to the cold, windy and wet Blackpool weather I experienced doing my first half-marathon in February. I had a few niggles along the way – sore back, knee etc – but had regular visits to the physio.
They say that with a marathon the training is harder than the event itself – and I have to say I agree – but knowing that I had committed to running for charity spurred me on. I initially set out to raise £500. I thought that was a reasonable amount and it was more than I’d managed to raise in previous fundraising efforts. I set up a JustGiving page as that way the money went directly to CAUK and I didn’t have to carry a sponsor form around with me. I posted a link on my Facebook page and immediately a couple of running friends donated. I then sent an email round the team at work and again people quickly responded. Periodically I would send another email or Facebook post with a bit of an update or countdown – and each time I would see a few more donations come in. I hit my target, so I increased it to £750. I still had a sponsor form as my mum is a mobile hairdresser and her older customers aren’t on the internet. As I nervously stood on the start line I had raised over £1000 online and over £100 off-line. I have been absolutely bowled over by people’s generosity. The response has been amazing. I have also had a few people thanking me for sharing the CAUK website address as it has helped them understand more about cavernoma.
Running the marathon was great – I felt prepared, and I knew that Anyta and her family would be there when I finished. It was tough going but there wasn’t a point where I thought about giving up. We started and finished from Old Trafford – Manchester United’s football ground. The spectators all along the route were amazing. There were bigger crowds when we ran through towns, but even on long stretches of road there would still be people cheering, offering sweets or sliced oranges.
The day before, at parkrun, someone had told me to have a ‘gold, silver, and bronze’ goal in my head – so that way whatever time I got I wouldn’t be disappointed. I knew going into the race that I would be lucky to get my Gold. I completed the marathon in 5:12:27 which meant I achieved my silver – that’ll do for me!
Anyta and her family saw me cross the finish line (I didn’t see them – I only had eyes for one thing at that point), and her daughter presented me with a poster that said ‘Well Done Charlotte’ – I think that was better than my medal!