In October this year, I decided to run a virtual marathon, my first one. I began training, building up and getting the miles in my legs, tentatively at first to avoid injury but building up the distances as I went. It was very hard but didn’t take long and like my dad, I (quietly) don’t give up.
My motivation… my dad. An athlete, a footballer, champion snooker and darts player, canoeist and lifelong fisherman. He received his multiple sclerosis (MS) diagnosis when he was 27 years old, not long after I was born. He is now 66 and although the progression of the disease has been relatively gradual, it has taken away all those things. He has lost the vast majority of the mobility control in his legs amongst other things. Having lived with MS for 40 years I cannot believe how resilient and calm he is and yet open. We all keep a little back from our loved ones and I do not doubt that he does because this is his and he owns it. He shares what he wants and faces into what he doesn’t. He doesn’t complain, he doesn’t moan and he doesn't give up.
I originally intended to run the Official 2020 Virtual TCS New York City Marathon solo and self-supported, however, an ambitious practice run turned into the full distance a week ahead of schedule! I was out on the trails and things were working out well so decided to push on to make sure I understood what the ‘real thing’ would be like… good job too as I learnt a lot about what my body needs when under this much pressure. I thought of my dad.
On the day, after designing my route and packing my vest with food and water, I decided to set off from my dad’s home and take a nostalgic run through the old days along roads, towns and villages I remember when growing up. The weather was shocking with heavy rain and being soft underfoot - so Garmin ‘Set', crime audiobook ‘On’ (Dad loves detective stories), head down, swing the arms and see where the legs take you!
20 miles in and to be honest I’d had enough of natural beauty, enough of my audiobook, my body was rejecting food and all the water in the world was not hydrating me. There was no reason I could be, but I was bored! So I called my wife and spoke to my kids who buoyed me up. Then called my dad who picked up just as the wind and rain returned and couldn’t hear a damn word I was saying! They say the last six miles are the worst. That said, I completed it, solo and self-supported while playing detective in the pouring rain.
My reward (medal) is still in the mail from US however the New York Road Runners app provided this augmented reality one which really lifts the spirits when you award it yourself while you pose for as good a selfie as you can get (or care about getting!). My other reward was a cold, then hot bath, a can of American Cream Soda, nine sausages with huge amounts of Dad's mash.
I was reading about MS-UK and what caught my eye, in particular, was their focus on the mental health of individuals with a multiple sclerosis diagnosis. My dad, my brothers and I are all fortunate to have one another to provide all kinds of support, particularly through lockdown, but we all know there will be some serious and important decisions to make in the next few years. We will need to strike a balance between support and independence. There will also be times when we do not know what to do, or if it is the ‘right’ thing and we will need the support of MS-UK.
As for fundraising, I told my story to those at work, those I run with or who I know run. With so many charities, particularly in 2020, needing more support than ever I didn’t want to appear to pressure them but when explaining the reason for my choice and the impact the support of MS-UK will one day have, people gave what they could.
Simon has raised an incredible £737.53 for MS-UK, here is the link to his fundraising page https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?userUrl=SimonGardner11&pageUrl=1
If you would like to take on your own challenge to raise money for MS-UK like Simon did, please contact Lucy today on 01206 226500 or email@example.com
We were so disappointed for all of our #TeamPurple runners when it was announced that the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020 was postponed and then ultimately cancelled. However, we were blown away by the level of support from our runners, especially when the news broke that the Virgin Money London Marathon was going virtual for its 40th race.
After opening up our remaining virtual places to past runners and our runners’ friends and family, we had an amazing 100 people taking part on behalf of MS-UK!
On 04 October, they set out all around the UK and even some across the pond in Canada and the USA.
It was great to see how so many of our runners decided to make the event their own. Charlotte, Donna and Mim in Essex, decided to take on the challenge in fancy dress. They decided to run through the decades marking the start of the Virgin Money London Marathon.
They started in the 80s when the London Marathon began, before moving onto Ab Fab for loop three and were feeling magical in their Hogwarts get up as the progressed. They then ran around as various emoji’s before completing their run dressed as NHS staff to honour those who have been working around the clock over the past few months.
Alongside the creativity shown by our runners making their own finishing lines and having lined their routes with the London landmarks, some of #TeamPurple were invited to share their story on the BBC wall and on local radio stations which is truly incredible!
Of course, we cannot talk about the virtual event without sharing the experience of Jodey Hopcroft, who ended up covering a distance of 50 miles instead of the usual 26.2 miles due to a lack of signal for her tracking device. Despite the geological mishap, Jodey has stayed in good cheer and her story went viral after being interviewed by her local newspaper. Her story has since spread to various media outlets including Sky News and BBC, as well as other local and national radio stations and even made international news in India, Sweden and France to name a few. This led to a huge spike in donations to her JustGiving page – well done Jodey!
A huge thank you to all the runners and their friends and family for their continued support during this time, as a result of the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon #TeamPurple raised an additional £30,000!
Monday 10 August 2020 will forever be a memorable day for me, as that was the day I set off on a 1,000-mile bike ride from Yorkshire to Vienna, on my own.
You might be wondering, quite rightly, “Why on earth would you want to do that?” And when I reflect on my achievement, I do sometimes wonder what possessed me to pack up my bike and set off on a solo journey across a continent, which took me from the UK over to the Netherlands, through Germany and into Austria.
The 18-day trip saw me cycle, on average, 70 miles a day through some of the most amazing scenery, tracking alongside the Rivers Rhine and Danube.
I undertook this challenge and adventure for a number of reasons. Firstly, I actually had another cycling trip planned and booked for the summer, however because of the Coronavirus pandemic that had to be cancelled. Instead of just accepting that, sitting back, and doing nothing, as soon as the European borders started to open and the situation had calmed down slightly, I set about planning this trip.
Ever since October 2019, I had wanted to visit Vienna, as it was in that city that Eliud Kipchoge, arguably the greatest marathon runner of all time, completed a sub-two-hour marathon. As a marathon runner myself, I can really relate to just how ridiculously quick that is and how incredible that achievement was. I remember watching him sprinting to the finish line and shedding a tear as Kipchoge achieved a sports milestone given almost mythical status in the running world, breaking through a temporal barrier that many would have deemed untouchable only a few years ago.
Instead of flying to Vienna, I decided my own challenge would be to cycle to the very spot that Kipchoge completed his incredible achievement.
Along the way, I kept a daily blog, mostly to keep my parents informed as to where I was and what had happened that day. The blog, however, picked up some momentum, and soon it was clear that it was more than just Mum and Dad who were reading and enjoying it.
I received an overwhelming amount of support, kind and motivating words from so many people that I knew this journey and adventure wasn’t just for me. I knew I could achieve so much more by harnessing the power of this small community I had inadvertently created. On my penultimate day of riding, I set up my JustGiving page for MS-UK and within a few days raised £1,000. That total now sits at around £1,700, which I am so proud of.
MS-UK is a charity that is very close to my heart. I first got involved with the charity in 2014 when I ran The London Marathon. A very special lady, Mrs B, who has sadly passed away now, lived with multiple sclerosis so I know how devastating the illness can be. She has a very special place in my heart and she doesn’t know it, but I was riding my bike for all those people, like her, who are not able to.
Here is the link to my website which has my full, day by day blog of the trip. I hope you enjoy reading it – please leave a comment if you do! https://yorkshireto.com/
If you’ve been inspired by Jo’s fundraising adventure, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jo-goodall2.
Setting herself a mammoth challenge, Rhona Kingett completed her own accessible marathon
As I looked through my emails one day, I came across one about of doing a virtual marathon for MS-UK. It suggested taking a challenge for 26 days, or 26 times, or anything relating to the 26 miles of a marathon, due to the postponement of the Virgin Money London Marathon.,
When young I was a bit of a long distance runner. Never to the extent of running marathons though! I actually put my energies into dancing rather than running, and I became a professional actor, dancer and musician. Unfortunately as my career progressed taking me upwards, the multiple sclerosis (MS) progressed and took me downwards. The MS won and it overtook the work.
I tried to think of how I could get the virtual marathon idea to work for an MS-UK fundraiser. My MS has moved onto secondary progressive about three years ago. I was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 1994. My legs no longer support me and I get hoisted between the bed and my wheelchair. I have bad spasms and I’m supposed to do all sorts of physio exercises but there are so many and my body doesn't do what I tell it to do.
Somehow I let these exercises slip. Then it suddenly struck me how I could do a virtual marathon that would help both me and the charity. I would ask people to sponsor me to do my physio exercises on each of the 26 consecutive days. My husband (my full-time carer) would be making sure that I really do them. The hope being that, once I’d fitted the exercises into my daily routine, I would continue with them.
I sent the link for the sponsorship out on Facebook and Twitter. When money started being pledged by people I realised that I had to do what I had said I would do. But after a number of days, I found that there were certain movements that became easier to do – indeed I increased the number of repetitions of some. That was another encouragement. It made things easier for me and also for my husband. More encouragement.
I sent updates to my social media contacts. Some of these shared them, either electronically or just verbally, which led to further sponsorship donations.
I was pleased to see the money coming in, and therefore the amount available for MS-UK to use, going up. Not just because it showed what supportive friends I have (I knew that) but because I knew it meant MS-UK could give more support and information to people and families who have had the news that ‘the MS monster’ has come into their lives.
To contribute to Rhona’s fundraiser, click here
Rebecca Bailey was diagnosed with MS during lockdown, and a ‘desperate impulse’ has resulted in her helping others just like herself with overwhelming support, she is our July Fundraiser of the Month
Here’s the thing you should know about me, I’m not a good runner and a strange phenomenon happens where I turn into a sweaty beetroot. Ask anybody. I used to run a bit here and there, nothing fancy. But now, despite the beetroot face, I’m going to keep running until I physically can’t anymore. I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) during the pandemic. That was a bit of a surprise for me, in a year full of surprises. And yet, this July, I’m running a (very slow) marathon over the course of the month. All 42km, bit by painstaking bit. Surprised? I know I am!
So what spurred on my July dash? I have to be honest, it was a desperate impulse. My symptoms are mostly tingly feet, but it’s pretty off-putting when I’m running not to feel the ground beneath me. Will I trip and swerve right off the path? Probably not, fingers crossed! For a while, I just wanted to hide and wait until the tingling went away. I couldn’t envision going out on the track like this. I saw the ideal version of myself I had in my head swerve off the path and fall out of sight. My confidence was broken. I stopped running.
Then I saw the MS-UK’s My MS Marathon campaign and madly thought “Yeah, alright then”. I had been trying to be vocal about my new health condition but I never anticipated what happened next. I linked up my fundraising page with friends and family and promptly forgot about it. I put my trainers on and managed to stay on the path for the duration of my run.
I have email alerts on my phone, and as I pounded my way over tarmac and dirt track, I was accompanied by the ringing sound of emails flying into my inbox. At 2km I stopped for a breather and checked out what was causing the racket. A man was running past me at the exact moment that I whooped for joy, and I think I caused him to leap out of his skin. I couldn’t believe it, I’d smashed my £100 target within a couple of hours.
Turns out, I hadn’t really told that many people about my diagnosis. My bad. They learned about it through my fundraiser, and all I can surmise is that they wanted to give me a hand. I just didn’t realise how many hands there were, reaching to give me a boost, a pat on the back, a high five. Old family friends, co-workers, lost friends, and against the backdrop of well-wishers, always my family. I haven’t seen my mum or dad, haven’t hugged them in four months. Not since before my diagnosis. But my family led the way with my fundraiser, reaching across the distance to keep me going. I was crying by 3km because my next target had whooshed by like the kilometres. By 4km, I didn’t know what to do with myself but laugh. To myself. In the middle of the street. As it rained. It was that kind of a day.
I started out doing small runs - 1.5km, maybe 2.5km if I was feeling brave. Before long, I fell back into the rhythm of my run. My muscles remembered what they were doing, I recognised the twinge of a stitch but pushed through it. I inched back up to 5km, and it had been over a year since I had the energy or the confidence to push that far. And now, when I feel like walking, I remember my backers’ messages and I keep running.
I know that for many other people with MS, having MS-UK there will keep them going. It’s so important to help support people going through this frightening time. I know because I’m going through it too, and I need all the help I can get.
I hit £1,000 last week and I don’t think I’ve stopped smiling (or running) since. I’m still on the right path, for now. If you've been inspired by Rebecca's story or would like to donate, visit my-ms-marathon.everydayhero.com/uk/running-for-my-life
I woke up on Sunday 26 April, London Marathon day, or at least it should have been! It should have been the 40th anniversary of the event. I thought about those who should have been taking part, the months of training, the moments of pain and the little victories along the way. I picked up my phone with my cup of tea and started catching up on the social media updates when I came across an MS-UK post on Facebook “The 2.6 challenge, Save the UK's charities, 1 Day to go”, and it was posted yesterday meaning launch day was today!
I dropped a quick comment to ask if it was too late to sign up and on hearing I wasn’t too late, I quickly started thinking about what I could do. I glanced around and saw the face of the famous Pokémon Pikachu painted on the side of my beer barrel from a previous event, he looked at me smugly from across the room and my challenge started to come together.
I decided that I was going to dust him off and carry him while running 26.26km, in keeping with the 2.6 challenge. I set up my JustGiving page and told the world about my challenge for MS-UK.
It got to 5pm and as I was walking to my start line I check my JustGiving page to see I had already raised over £200, which was the perfect little boost I needed before setting off!
At 5km in my elbows were already screaming at me, I had some water and a bit of flapjack and set off up the river path. I negotiate the barrel into different positions to ease the pain on the elbows. If I held it in one hand over my back it bounced on my shoulder blades, in front of me it banged on my hips, two hands behind my head and my elbows filled with pain, there just isn't a comfortable way to carry that thing! I focused on all the reasons I was doing this, I'm running this for my parents, I'm running it for those that can't, I'm running it to raise vital funds for a charity that is due to lose out. This isn't about me or my challenge, it's about them.
I reached the half way point and pulled out my phone to find messages of support, I snapped a quick photo, picked up my barrel and continued my run feeling a little more refreshed from those encouraging words. I saw a family ahead and moved well over to let them pass, but really I was grateful for a short rest. As they passed I heard, “You do realise they make smaller water bottles mate?” It made me smile and once they'd passed I carried on, getting ever closer to the end of my journey.
Three hours after I had set off, the sun had started to set in the sky and I was just 3km from the finish. I took one quick photo with the sunset and then I picking up my pace because I knew I was almost there. Literally on the home stretch now and running towards my house, barrel in front of me, I was regularly checking my watch for distance. I watched the numbers tick over… 25.90, 26.00, 26.10, 26.2... 26.26km, I was there! It was done! My hands felt bruised, my legs tired and I felt like what I had just achieved was harder than the marathon itself. I checked JustGiving again to find the total was now over £300! I was astonished at the generosity from friends, family and even social media followers.
It was then time for a bath and a cup of tea! I feel happy to know I've helped my charity in their time of need.
If you would like to make a donation to Gavin’s fundraising page visit his JustGiving page here.
As soon as I found out I had a place on #TeamPurple in the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020, I started telling everyone, and I mean everyone!
Setting up a JustGiving page makes sharing your fundraising story so easy. As soon as I had mine set up, I shared the link with friends, family, work colleagues, clients and suppliers at work, even the WhatsApp group that all the neighbours in my building are part of.
Spreading the excitement
Being passionate and truly caring about the cause you are running for is infectious. People feel it and get behind you because of it. Don’t worry about boring people, or get wrapped up in what they think about what you’re doing, as that’s not a productive use of your time and energy.
As well as donations from friends and family, I sold teams on a football scratch card. If you search ‘football scratch card’ on Amazon you can buy a pack of 10 for £3. I sold each team for £10, with £200 to go to the winner and £200 for MS-UK. I timed it to be drawn just before Christmas which I think helped get the squares sold. I’ll definitely be doing another card pre-race day.
I have also been in touch with my local community manager at Tesco to organise bag packing. I’ll be pushing for Easter weekend so that the shop will be a bit busier, and it’s not long before the race itself! I have linked up with a couple of other runners near me so that we can take this on together and have more of a presence in-store.
Running for my mum
My mum had secondary progressive multiple sclerosis. Her left leg was worst affected, making walking a daily struggle.
She would often fall in public and be left humiliated and, of course, in pain.
In September 2013, she was admitted to hospital for an unrelated skin infection. On discharge she was largely bed bound as her MS became increasingly aggressive, spurred on by a weakened immune system. A combination of all of the above led to her suffering a pulmonary embolism and passing away on 26/09/13. I don’t need to tell anyone how hard losing a parent is. I am completely and utterly lost without my mum and, even six years on, it’s as rubbish as it was then!
I was too young, selfish and naïve to take control of the situation for mum. I want to run the London 2020 Marathon in memory of her and to raise funds for MS UK to be able to help others with MS because of this. MS is misunderstood, it affects everyone differently and is completely unpredictable. I want to play my part in changing this.
My top tips
If you’re training for a big run, get started on your fundraising as soon as you can so you can smash it out of the park early and focus on training
Talk to everyone about it. It will connect you with people in a way you would never have imagined.
Use social media. I’m documenting my training on Instagram (@healthylivinglisa_). It’s an amazing tool to get chatting to other runners and widen your network even further.
Get yourself into the Facebook group and connect with other MS-UK runners. There are also a few London Marathon Facebook groups with thousands of people to chat to and get tips from.
Not everyone has this opportunity, certainly not those that are badly affected with MS, so it’s important to recognise how much of a privilege we all have to be part of #TeamPurple and what an honour it is to spread awareness and take this challenge on.
This guest blog is from Poppy Storey, aged seven, from Kent, who did the Tough Mudder with her brother Heath. Poppy’s mother, Helaina, is running the Virgin Money London Marathon 2020 for MS-UK too. The Storeys really are a force to be reckoned with!
My name is Poppy. My brother Heath and I raised £420 towards Mummy’s goal by doing a Tough Mudder. We had to run and go over lots of obstacles and we got really, really muddy!
I wanted to raise money for MS-UK so my Nanny can get better. My Nanny is really kind. I want everyone with multiple sclerosis (MS) to be happy and get well soon.
My favourite obstacle was the tunnel because going through it was really fun and it was like I ended up at a different place at the other end. It was really mysterious!
I didn’t really like the monkey bars as much because they were really hard to go on and Heath had to lift me and my hands were so muddy they kept slipping off, so it didn’t work. My little sister Imogen ran round everywhere with us but not in the track, obviously. She ran next to us at every obstacle and she was very excited.
A really funny part was when I couldn’t feel my legs because all the mud went into my trousers because when we went on Mud Mountain, every time I went down the hill I fell down into the water and started to float and it felt really weird.
One of the obstacles, Everest, was funny because I kept slipping down it and I got some mud in my eye when Heath tried to pull me up. He poked me in the eye with his muddy hand and Mummy poured water into my eye and scooped it out with her finger! Mummy said I was so brave and we got a treat at the end which was a sherbet ice cream and it was really sour.
At the end we got hosed off at the water station and my trousers were so heavy I couldn’t walk to the car!
Mummy told her friends to sponsor us and our school put it in the newsletter so our friends could sponsor us too. Daddy said we did such a good job and he donated another fifty pounds!
It was really fun and I was actually very surprised how much money we raised. We loved our MS-UK vests and even Mummy has one with her name on for the marathon. Go Team Purple!
Danny Holland, one of our clients at our wellness centre, Josephs Court, has helped MS-UK year on year since 2016 with a sponsored head and beard shave to raise money to help people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS).
‘This is something simple I can do to, at the very least, to help raise money for my charity.’
‘I myself have MS so I can understand how much pain and discomfort others are going through. That's why I want to help them by raising money for MS-UK and by doing so, it gives me a great feeling of happiness.’
‘I participate in the hair and beard shaving challenge to raise money and I also have a very close friend of mine who helps in collecting the money.’
Danny raised £112.38 this year, bringing his grand total raised so far up to £396.72! This money helps us to run Josephs Court, which supports people with MS to maintain their wellbeing and live independently.
If you would like to raise money for MS-UK our dedicated fundraising team are always on hand to help. We have had people raise money in lots of different ways, from sitting in a tub of baked beans to skydiving! Simply call Lucy on 01206 226500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this guest blog our October Fundraiser of the Month, Dan Young, tells us about how he raised an amazing £870 for MS-UK by walking the length of the River Thames this summer...
On 12 August, I set off to walk the length of the River Thames from the source in Kemble, Gloucester to the Thames Barrier.
When planning to do the walk, I decided to do it in memory of my Gran who had passed away after living with multiple sclerosis (MS) and as such, chose to raise money for MS-UK.
The route is 184 miles mainly following the Thames Path and at about 16 miles a day, I expected it take 12 days of walking through the summer heat. However, the British weather did not fail to disappoint. The first week poured with rain and in the second week, the temperature rose to 30C at its peak.
The weather made it harder than it already was. The long walks without seeing anyone were tough. I could walk 10 miles in the Oxfordshire countryside with only cows for company so when I finally saw another person I instantly wanted to talk to them!
Speaking of animals, they can be stubborn when they want to be. I had a number of situations with cows and sheep refusing to move out of my way, which left a dip in the Thames my only option at times. They were mostly harmless though and it was nice to roam through the fields and hills in the countryside and enjoy the long walks.
The scenery changed as I approached Reading and towards Central London. It was quite a relief to start walking on actual paths rather than cuttings in the grass as my feet started to feel every lump and bump in my path.
As I got into Central London, I soon turned into a tourist, walking past the Houses of Parliament and crossing the river to walk past the almighty Shard.
The end stretch from Tower Bridge to the Thames Barrier was the toughest! At this point, there were only 10 miles left but my feet were not in the best state. The area around the O2 gives little shade apart from the reflection of the sun off the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf but I pushed through. I finished at the Thames Barrier, 11 days and four hours after starting and had raised an amazing £870!
I am absolutely thrilled that I’ve stepped forward (no pun intended) and done it!
I’ve already started to plan my next adventure but for now, I’ll put my feet up…
Has Dan inspired you? Get in touch with Lucy if you would like to take on a challenge to raise money to help people affected by MS. Email email@example.com or call 01206 226500. You can donate to Dan’s cause via his JustGiving page.