At last, we have some sun! To the thousands of people who have spent the last few months pounding pavements and parks in freezing cold, wind and rain, this is a particular relief. Marathon training always has an element of masochism, but now the long runs are done. All that’s left is to rest. For some 37,000 hoping to complete the world’s biggest fundraising event, we have 6 more days to wait.
This will be my third London Marathon, but in many ways a first as 7 days later I’ll be lining up at the start line of the Manchester Marathon. One marathon is tough. Two marathons in one week is new territory. Two marathons in one week with a fraction of the required training is pretty scary.
For years, I’ve had to manage a bad back. I’ve done it reasonably well, and it’s held up through marathons, triathlons, Land’s End to John O’Groats and the (increasingly) occasional football match. This time, we’ve not been kind to each other and it’s stopped me from training as I would have liked. Thoughts of a best time are out of the window: it’s simply about getting through.
I’m hoping the memory of my 15 previous marathons will stay strong in my legs, and combine with some decent general fitness, sugar and support to bring me home. For the first time in a long time I’m worried: but here’s what’s driving me forward:
Where The Money Goes. When Leading Light was first imagined, the £1million was aspirational. I wanted the campaign to raise a lot, but a figure so huge was designed to stretch people’s ambitions a little bit. Maybe to show that you don’t have to be rich and famous to do something like this. All you need to do is be yourself, come together, work hard towards a greater purpose. Now I’ve learned where it goes, the £1million has become a genuine target. In fact, it has become essential. Take the Trials Acceleration Programme (TAP) for example. Because of LLR-funded research, we know more about blood cancers than ever before. We probably know more than we realise, but we need to understand it better and that means sharing knowledge and coordinating properly. TAP is saving lives right now but it needs funding. I want us to provide that funding, to actively save and improve lives. Having met some of the incredible researchers working with LLR, I now know it’s more than a job for them. It’s a passion – a vocation – and despite all the complexities of the work they do, for me it still boils down to simple equation: They want to beat blood cancer, they know how, they need resources to do it well, we can raise money. We should raise money. No single individual can beat blood cancer for everyone. We all have to be part of the solution.
The Team. This is first time Leading Light has had a team running: Claire and Barry joining me at the start line. I’m honoured they want to get involved and to help. Claire is going for her best time, and through all her training has managed to persuade her friends to come together and plan a big fundraising drive for the campaign. That’s the whole point and she’s a great example: pledge to do something, do it, pass it on. That’s the only way this campaign will work. Barry, Steven’s brother, is running his first marathon and ideally I’d like us to run the whole thing side by side (he’s a United Fan, I’m a City Fan. Maybe we should run in our shirts?!).
My Friend. I miss him. I don't like talking about it - it's personal - but I miss him more than ever this year. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe because the blood cancer community has become such a central part of my life. Maybe because it’s the 10th year since he left us and I'm proud of what we're doing in his memory. He’s be 29 now. I wonder what he’d be like now. All that talent, all that love. The great gift that was taken away from Barry, his parents, his family and his friends.
Too many gifts have been taken from too many people. We really can help to stop it happening and beat blood cancers: I’ve seen it and I want you all to see it too.
Anything you can spare would be gratefully received. Please do dig deep and keep us moving forward. You can donate here.
Thanks folks - keep in touch.