Last year, more than 40,000 people – from elite athletes to first-time runners – took part in the London Marathon. Over the years, hundreds of millions of pounds has been raised for charities, with 750 different British charities involved through the Golden Bond scheme that saves places for charity runners. So what inspires people to take on the gruelling 26.2 miles?
Antony Butcher for the MS Society
“My journey to the Marathon began shortly after the millennium, in my early teens. I came home one evening to the news that the obscure illness my mum had was Multiple Sclerosis. Over the past decade, I’ve raised £15k for the MS Society.
“In 2017, I had my first depressive episode, partly fuelled by the sadness of seeing my mum deteriorate. I survived – dreaming of the day I’d be the old me again.
“I’ve learnt two things on this journey. Firstly, it’s OK to talk about how you are feeling – especially for us blokes, who often bottle things up. Secondly, we all have the power to do amazing things. You’d be amazed by what happens when you say yes.”
You can support Antony at justgiving.com/antonyjcbutcherlondonmarathon
Jennifer Bartram for Cancer Research UK
“One night when I was 16, I woke up to hear my mam shouting that dad was having a seizure. After a few tests, it was discovered that he had both lung cancer and a brain tumour. He received some treatment, but by the time the cancer was found, it was too advanced, and he died 12 weeks later.
“That was 20 years ago, and cancer treatments have advanced so much since that he would have stood a much better chance of survival now. Cancer Research UK relies on us to keep their research going, and even to play a small part in that means the world to me.
“I know that the Marathon is going to be an emotional rollercoaster of a race. My dad would have laughed his head off if he was still around today – I wasn't much of an athlete when I was younger. I know that memories of my dad and the determination to help more people fight the disease will get me over the finish line.”
Help Jennifer's cause by donating at justgiving.com/fundraising/jen-bartram
Mark Bunko for Parkinson’s UK
“Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in his early 50s. The hardest part for him was having to give up working for the company he had owned and run for more than 30 years, and the activities that he loved, including golf and going to watch his beloved Norwich City.
“Running the Marathon and being public with my story is helping me to honour my dad’s memory, and also bring something positive from a very negative situation. I have struggled with coming to terms with what had happened, and the way it has affected me and my family, and I’m finding that training and fundraising for Parkinson’s UK is helping with that; I’m physically and mentally stronger.”
Show Mark some support at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/markbunko
Nathan Fallon for Great Ormond Street Hospital
“I was born with a congenital heart defect – transposition of the great arteries. Within the first 24 hours of being born, I was rushed to Great Ormond Street Hospital and had an operation to give me a chance to survive. Then, at just three months old, I had open heart surgery, which still only gave me a 50/50 chance. At the time, this operation was rare and the process was challenging for GOSH. If it wasn’t for their courage and perseverance, I wouldn’t be here.
“At 26 years old, I am exceeding all doctors’ expectations and I am a keen sportsman. I have wanted to give back to this charity for a long time, and running my first marathon in London seems like the perfect way.”
Whatever the cause and no matter the time it takes to complete, the London Marathon is the UK’s biggest celebration of both human physicality, and of our generosity. Together, we can take steps to create a better world for all.
Cheer Nathan on by supporting him at justgiving.com/fundraising/nathan-fallon
The Virgin Money London Marathon 2019 takes place on Sunday 28 April. Find out more by visiting virginmoneylondonmarathon.com.