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‘Running the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020 is my way of saying thank you!’

Kate C 1.jpgAs Kate Collins gears up for the Virgin Money London Marathon she shares why she is running and how she has reached her fundraising target!

‘Runnin’,’ by Naughty Boy ft. Beyoncé seems to be the soundtrack to describe my life right now! I am currently in the midst of training for the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020 and boy do my family and friends sure know it! All my daily chats now involve running-related topics such as; routes, ailments and the weather!

I started running from an early age, from runs in the park with my Dad and dog, representing the County a couple of times during secondary school for cross country, to running various amateur 10k and half marathon races. I have never been the best runner but I’ve always lived by the mantra ‘it’s the taking part that counts!’

My friends didn’t have much of interest in the sport when I was growing up and didn’t share my love of longingly watching the Virgin Money London Marathon take place wishing I was in and amongst the thousands of runners. What was once a dream is soon going to become a reality (hopefully!).

For the past three years, I have tried and failed at gaining a place for the London Marathon and swore this year would be my last time entering. I decided to try my chances at gaining a place through a charity this year and to my amazement, it worked!

As a teenager, I always said if I was ever lucky enough to run the Virgin Money London Marathon I would raise money for a multiple sclerosis (MS) charity. For over 25 years now my Mum has lived with MS. She does not allow this diagnosis to consume her life nor does she allow it to dictate what she can and cannot do. Instead, she tackles daily challenges with sheer determination and never uses her diagnosis as ‘an excuse.’ Her outlook on life is extremely positive and now, as a retired teacher, she continues to help others through volunteer work.

My Dad has been a constant rock from the time of diagnosis for my Mum and as a family, we would be lost without him. But alongside this Mum has received an unfathomable amount of support from NHS health care professionals, in particular MS nurses. Without support from these highly trained and skilled professionals, my Mum’s quality of life would not be what it is today. And so, running the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020 is my way of saying, “thank you” to all health care professionals who support and care for people living with MS.

I am currently in the 6th week of training for the marathon and it’s starting to hurt! Fortunately, I am extremely lucky to be running the marathon alongside my best friend who is also running for a charity that supports her mum. Having a training partner shares the load psychologically – if only it would also physically! The cold, stormy and dark nights and mornings do not entice us to train but we constantly keep reminding each other the reason why we are running and that’s all the determination we need.

Ironically, although training is hard, I am finding fundraising harder! Naturally, I am not an outspoken person and I try to blend into the background. This is the first time I am raising money for a charity solely on my own. At first, I completely shied away from the concept of having to ask people for money, hoping I would one day just open up my JustGiving page and there would miraculously be money donated into it without me having to ask anybody!

Initially, I just advertised my Just Giving with one post on my social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram), and I couldn’t believe how many donations came flooding in within the first couple of days. I was completely overwhelmed at how generous people were being just by adding a link to my pages but this also gave me the confidence boost needed to actually do some fundraising.

The first ‘event’ I held was a tea and coffee stall at my brother’s football team – ‘Dale Park Girls.’ This proved very popular on a very cold Saturday morning and is something I shall be doing again in the future. After that, I held a boot sale – being a complete novice I was not prepared for the early bargain hunters but once they heard I was donating all funds to MS-UK they were more generous with their offerings!

The following fundraising events I have undertaken I cannot take credit for as these have been organised by close friends and family of mine. They have all been unique in how they have helped me to raise money, from Father Christmas collecting donations for me in a café, a quiz night in a local pub and donation collecting at local pubs and clubs. Again, it is so amazing the love and support I have been given by friends and family and their wanting to help me raise money for MS-UK is incredible.

I still need to reach my target of £2,000 but I am not far off. I have a few more ideas up my sleeve such as holding a ‘colour run’ event at the school I work in and a possible football tournament. I’ll also give tea and coffee stall and a boot sale a go again – once the weather fairs up!

Never underestimate the power of social media though, for fundraising, this is the ultimate tool to connect you to people. As I am running with my friend we decided to document our training on Instagram (@sole_mate_runners). To document our journey but also connect with other runners and like-minded people. This page has only been up for a couple of weeks, however, we have both already received donations on out pages through it.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank MS-UK for giving me a place on their team – it is the ultimate runner's prize running the Virgin Money London Marathon and it is something I am not taking for granted.  It will be an absolute honour wearing purple on the day to represent #TeamPurple and what a coincidence purple is my favourite colour! Good luck fellow runners and fundraisers!

If you would like to donate to Kate’s JustGiving page, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kate-collins16.