Tony Britton, Fundraising Manager, ME Association.
Despite the events that have rocked our world, our congratulations go to two more supporters who stepped up to the plate to complete their fundraising challenges.
Both had been due to run in Sunday’s massive London Landmarks Half Marathon – except that race was cancelled a fortnight ago because of the coronavirus.
The Local Landmarks Challenge is a replacement event that allows individuals to complete a half-marathon and still adhere to social restrictions.
Here are their stories…
ALICE WATTS from Long Ditton, Surbiton, Surrey
Alice Watts, a 20-year-old medical student at Bristol University, has volunteered to work in hospitals there later in April.
Since all the students were sent home, though, she has been staying at her parents’ home in South West London – near Hampton Court Palace and not far from the Surrey Hills.
“We all knew last Monday that a crackdown on outdoor activities was on its way. I didn’t want to get caught out by that so I got out of the house at about 4.45pm and didn’t get home until almost sunset”, she said.
While pounding paths all by herself from her local pub, the City Arms on Portsmouth Road, she kept texting old friends from Hinchley Wood School as she ran to Hampton Court, along the Thames Towpath, before turning south towards Weston, Littleworth, Claygate, and then back through Hinchley Wood to Long Ditton.
“There were people picnicking in little groups along the towpath. I thought ‘Hey guys! You shouldn’t really be doing that. You should be inside!’,” she said.
“Whenever I got near a friend’s house, I texted them to come and give me a wave, which they did, and they all cheered me on. I even got a piece of pizza from one of them. It was piping hot. I arrived just as she was taking the delivery.”
At one point, Alice topped a hill and miles away saw Heathrow Airport, locked down and quiet, with its ranks of parked airliners. She got home just before the Prime Minister locked down the nation in his 8pm speech.
- Apply for your place: The Local Landmarks Challenge
Alice wanted to take part in the London Landmarks Half Marathon for the ME Association because her 51-year-old father Colin went down with M.E. three months before she was born and his life – all their lives – have been affected by the illness since then.
“He became ill round about July 1999 and can’t work. He was a highly dedicated teacher who really loved his job,” She said.
Last Thursday, she stood on the doorstep with her family and took part in the #ClapfortheNHS. “The tears welled up when I heard all that noise. It was fantastic!”
And volunteering to exchange today’s quiet life for work in the NHS later this month?
“I want it to be in Bristol because I know those hospitals now. They’ll need all the help they can get”, she said.
If you would like to support Alice’s fundraising, please visit her JustGiving page.
SARAH HERD from Prestonpans, near Edinburgh
Sarah Herd is still busy in the food sector, working on the membership information stand at the Costco wholesalers in Edinburgh where for variety she doubles up as a tyre fitter.
She took up running just over a year ago to regain fitness after having three children – egged on by husband Gavin, another runner.
She decided to do the half marathon on Sunday, the day it would have been held in central London. But she kept it local and followed the rules of the new substitute event, the Local Landmarks Challenge.
Her Strava trace (pictured below), which she has now sent in to claim her medal, shows she ran her 13 miles as a loop alongside the Firth of Forth from Prestonpans and did a bit of offroading outside the Royal Musselburgh Golf Club.
“My health has improved massively since I took up running”, said 41-year-old Sarah. “Before I took it up, if I was running late for the school run, I would get completely out of breath going from the car to the gate. Nowadays, I don’t. I feel great!”
She became convinced that M.E. research and everything about the illness were massively under-funded after meeting Carla, the 14-year-old daughter of their best friends who they met through the children’s school.
Carla had been through everything that this illness could throw at her, including having to take time off school.
But Carla’s family recently moved far away to Buckie where there’s a more gentle, slower way of life. Carla is managing to get into school more often, preparing for her Nat 5 exams and, health-wise, feeling much better.
“I take my hat off to her. It’s still difficult for her but, after all she has been through these past four years, her personality is now shining through again. It’s lovely to see.”
Sarah has been fundraising online for the ME Association and there’s still some money to come in from printed sponsor forms. If you would like to support her fundraising, there’s still time to do so at her JustGiving page.
Other Landmarks Half Marathon news
As already reported, at least one other entrant in the postponed London Landmarks Half Marathon has already run the distance for the ME Association near her home and sent in for her medal.
Anita Walton from Hinckley in Leicestershire ran the distance the weekend before Boris Johnson announced the big lockdown. Donations will still be welcome at her JustGiving page.
And anyone can enter the Local Landmarks Challenge, providing you stick firmly to the Government rules on social distancing:
- Apply for your place: The Local Landmarks Challenge
Help and Support
How you choose to help the ME Association is entirely up to you, and we are incredibly grateful for any support you can provide.
Contact our Fundraising Manager, Tony Britton, if you want to discuss any fundraising ideas or require support for your event. Telephone: 01406 370293 or 07946 760811 or via Email.
The ME Association
Please support our vital work
We are a national charity working hard to make the UK a better place for people whose lives have been devastated by an often-misunderstood neurological disease.
If you would like to support our efforts and ensure we are able to inform, support, advocate and invest in biomedical research, then please donate today.
Just click the image opposite or visit our JustGiving page for one-off donations or to establish a regular payment. You can even establish your own fundraising event.
ME Association Registered Charity Number 801279