This week, we had 39 runners compete in the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon. Our largest ever team have raised an AbleChildAfrica record amount of money and we were so proud to be there on the day, cheering them on. Buffy Parker, one of the phenomenal thirty-nine runners, has written a great piece about her experience running and fundraising for AbleChildAfrica!
“In 2009, I ran my first half marathon in Cardiff, crossed the finish line in a heap and vowed ‘NEVER AGAIN!’ It was the most painful experience of my life (…and I’ve had 2 children!!) – yet, within a week, I’d signed up to run again the following year… running is addictive!
After climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2011, I was itching for another challenge. I had been an avid watcher of the London Marathon since it began, so could this be the challenge I was looking for? ‘Oh, why not?’ I thought, so I applied and was unsuccessful in the ballot. I applied to run the London Marathon without success for the next 5 years. I couldn’t even get my name pulled out of the ballot that my running club held for their allocation of places. It was looking like I’d never do it. Every year I’d travel up to London and take my position just past the mile 25 marker and shout and scream support to the club members lucky enough to be running – the atmosphere was always incredible and I’d be buzzing before, during and after – vowing that the following year I’d be the other side of the barrier…it never happened! Enough was enough! I NEEDED to run this iconic race.
I applied for a Golden Bond place with AbleChildAfrica – it felt apt due to the fact that I work with children – and within a day I was offered the opportunity to run! You should have been in the staff room when I received the e-mail… I screamed, yelled, hollered… I was ecstatic!
I spoke to my wonderfully supportive head-teacher who agreed that it was a fantastic opportunity to involve the whole school. We wanted to put the ‘fun’ into fundraising so I decided to be very brave…and organise a school sleepover! Can you imagine?! Forty-five 10 and 11-year olds all sleeping in the school hall, eating McDonalds, watching DVDs and drinking hot chocolate. The parents were obviously delighted to pay for their kids to be away for the night! We raised over £750 just for that evening…just WOW! I am incredibly grateful to the children, their parents and the school for all their support in my fundraising efforts, not forgetting my colleagues who also gave up their time (and sleep!) to help out. As the Easter holidays approached, the children became almost as excited as me for the coming marathon. Many of the younger children thought I was going to win, I told them I’d try my best!!
I’ve never wished the school holidays away until now – I just wanted to get to the start line! Eventually the weekend arrived… My husband and daughter were lucky enough to have a pair of passes to the Golden Bond Grand-Stand area courtesy of AbleChildAfrica, who gave them to me for being a creative fundraiser…more about the charity’s support to follow!
The morning of the race dawned, I hadn’t slept, couldn’t eat, I was a bag of nerves. The race started and I have NEVER before experienced an atmosphere quite like it. The support of the crowd was incredible, the noise was deafening. The miles during the first half of the race zoomed by! Tower Bridge was a riot of colour and a barrage of yells (…I did shed a tear here, it was the part I had been most looking forward to!)
I ran and ran and ran. The last few miles loomed and it got a lot tougher. The weather was warmer than I had anticipated and I was shattered, but I kept going. As I approached Big Ben, I knew the AbleChildAfrica team would be just around the corner and, once I’d spotted them, then the finish line wasn’t too far ahead. The final 385 yards was the longest 385 yards I’d ever run – it felt like a marathon in itself. I saw Andrew, my husband in the stands along with my daughter Lucy and I almost lost it. Crossing the finish line was the most exhilarating thing ever… I felt so proud and yep, I cried again!”
“I’d done it…after a 6 year wait I’d actually run the London Marathon!”
“Now… I know a lot of people who secured charity places this year – some for very well-known charities – they weren’t given very much support. Some people never heard from their charities at all and had to do all the chasing, but let me tell you this – I felt incredibly supported from the very first e-mail confirming my place running for AbleChildAfrica. Evelyn was in constant contact throughout the process, offering help, encouragement and kind words. I never felt alone and knew if I wanted anything I just needed to e-mail and would always have an answer to a query the very same day. I had weekly e-mails and there were personal phone-calls too – I really feel as though I’ve made new friends! There was a Facebook page set up for the runners which was great – we were able to post comments, photos and fundraising ideas whenever we liked – my whole experience was just amazing.
If you’d love to do something crazy – let’s face it, running 26.2 miles is slightly mad… then my advice is DO IT! Don’t be worried, don’t be afraid, someone will be behind you every step of the way throughout the fundraising months and also on the day. I’m so proud to have nearly raised over £2000 for AbleChildAfrica. I’m still collecting money and I am so grateful to AbleChildAfrica for accepting me as one of their runners. I hope the monies raised this year and next year and the years to come help to provide the children, young people and their families in Africa with the necessary help and support they need to enable them to lead full and happy lives. Go on, do it…”
“If your dreams don’t scare you, then they aren’t big enough!”
Written by Buffy Parker – Proud London Marathon Finisher, 2017!
If you’d like to donate towards Buffy’s total, follow this link. If you’re interested in being part of the 2018 AbleChildAfrica London Marathon team, visit our webpage and register your interest today!