In a fortnight's time on 2nd April, our team of runners will be showing the rest of the field how to run the London Landmarks Half Marathon – with a couple from the Spalding area adding a depth of experience and determination that's second to none.
Rachael Nichols and Ade Mills will be back on a route they know so well. They've already entered it twice before. But this time they will be pounding those streets exclusively for us.
Ade, who’s worked as a postie in Spalding for 18 years, remembers doing a 20-mile charity walk with his parents on his ninth birthday. He raised £12,000 for a cancer foundation he set up in memory of a former colleague. He’s already run the Landmarks Half a couple of times and, last year, took part in the London Marathon itself to raise money for a local hospice.
“But nothing means more to me than this year's London Landmarks event for The ME Association.
“Rachael, my beautiful, amazing girlfriend, was officially diagnosed with ME in 2020 a couple of months before we became a couple. For those people who are lucky to know her, she is beautiful, warm , kind , caring lady – with a wicked sense of humour.
“She makes me immensely proud of her each and every day.”
Rachael, from Wisbech, is a teaching assistant in a local primary school. She loves running, does a lot of it for charity and is quietly realistic about the limitations the ME puts on her ambitions. She's determined, however, not to let this illness dictate how she lives her life.
Mother-of-one Rachael, who regularly takes part in local club runs, said: “I’m forever grateful for the treatment and therapy I received through the NHS. My diagnosis helped me to understand how my body works and how to face and manage a chronic illness that day in day out, also has great repercussions on my mental health.
“I continue with living life to the best level that I can, without ME actually being my life. It’s something I have…it must never become who I am!
“For me, running can be a treatment in itself, improving my cardiovascular fitness alongside my mental health. On the flip side, it can and regularly does aggravate the ME. However, in the long run (pardon the pun), I know that the exercise, socialising with other runners, feeling part of something and the sense of achievement is vital for my overall health.
“When I crash, I often wake up and see that my beautiful, caring son, Santiago has covered me with a blanket, put lavender drops on a tissue or my teddy bear and left a drink beside me for when I come to.
“My wonderful partner, Ade, is my rock and keeps all the plates spinning when I'm out of it. He regularly reminds me to rest and pace and never complains when having to hold the reins when I'm ill. “Just be kind to yourself” are words I regularly hear.
“Ade will also be running beside me in London. It's going to be an amazing, challenging, emotional (and hopefully) successful 13.1 miles.”
You can wish Ade and Rachael well by popping a few bob on to their fundraising pages. Please click on the buttons below to find them.
More about the rest of the team later.
Old hands at running London's streets – scenes from their running album, featuring Ade and Rachael
For people with ME/CFS who are thinking about taking on a physical fundraising challenge, or if you are organising an event that might involve people with ME/CFS, please read this notice from Neil Riley, Chairman of the ME Association.