I came out of a meeting in mid-January and had a text message from my good friend and Tysabri buddy’s husband, Alister... ‘Are you up for this?’ he said, sending a link to the Race to the King event, a 53 mile trail ultra-marathon.
I’d been running for about 8 months and had a few 10k and a half marathon runs under my belt, including the Brighton Marathon. I thought about it, albeit briefly, and replied ‘You know what? Yes! This sounds fun, happy to do it in a day too’. There was an option to do it over two days, but that was far too sensible…
And then I kind of forgot about it. I ramped up my training for Brighton and managed it in 4hr 30m. It was tougher than I’d hoped but I didn’t stick to my race plan and went too fast too soon. Alister assured me that a marathon was far harder than anything else I’d do… I was doubtful.
I signed up for a walking event, which the organiser agreed I could run if I was fully self-sufficient. So I ran 45km of trails on my 32nd birthday. Running offroad was a real eye opener. It took far longer than I expected but was really enjoyable and, as the only runner in a walking event, I won!
Alister was following a 12-week training program, but I was struggling. With a full time job, three dogs, multiple sclerosis (MS) and awful time management skills, I wasn’t getting the miles in. Seven weeks before the ultra, Alister and I hadn’t even run together – how were we going to manage 53 miles in each other’s company? I was starting to worry. As if he read my mind, Alister invited me to join him on a 13.1 training run around town. It went well but there was work to do. Not long after that, I managed to start using the program. It meant some early mornings and late nights, but soon I was racking up 25-40 miles per week, and Alister and I were running every Sunday together, exploring the South Downs between Chichester and Eastbourne.
At this point we discussed fundraising. We should raise some money, but who for? I volunteered that I would like to raise money for MS-UK, and Alister could join me or choose another charity if he wanted to. I explained that the MS-UK website and chat rooms had been beneficial for me post diagnosis, and I’d like to support them. He was keen to join me, and the race begun!
Both of us are fortunate to have very supportive families, friendship groups and colleagues, and our JustGiving pages started seeing a lot of visitors. Whilst my close colleagues are aware that I have MS, it’s not common knowledge, and as I’m field based, I often don’t see people for months. Whilst my email was nonspecific, my JustGiving page was honest and held nothing back, which felt liberating. The email went to the entire business, and I let out a deep breath. Within minutes my inbox was full of kind, generous and supportive messages, some from people I knew reasonably well, and others who I’d only met once. It felt amazing.
Alister and I went on to raise around £1,700 each and proudly wore our MS-UK running vests as we took on the ultra-marathon on 23 June 2018. We set off from Slindon at 8.15am and ran (yes, we were still running) across the finish line in Winchester at just gone 10.30pm. It was an amazing experience and I genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. Our time was a little slower than hoped, but we had a headtorch malfunction, and both agreed we need to coordinate our toilet stops better in future. And yes, there is a ‘future’, Alister and I have only managed a few Parkruns together since but will be tackling at least one ultra-marathon in 2019 and aspire to complete a 100 mile ultra at some point.
My name is Laura and I am delighted to have been given a spot in the London Marathon in aid of MS-UK. I decided to run for MS-UK to raise awareness and funds for all those that are affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), including myself.
Since being diagnosed earlier this year, it has really motivated me to challenge myself and I thought that the London Marathon was the perfect way to do this. I must admit, the thought of raising a minimum of £2,000 was very daunting at first however with the help of my family and friends, I was able to come up with some great ideas in order to raise as much money for the charity as possible.
Even though I still have plenty of time before the marathon, I am the type of person who cannot relax until I am meeting targets or seeing results so I wanted to begin my fundraising as soon as possible so that I had less pressure on myself close to the run and so that I had enough time to enjoy every minute of raising money and also training.
I have recently hosted a coffee morning at my house which initially I thought would hopefully raise about £300. I got together with my family and friends who all pulled together to create a raffle, lucky dip, a treasure hunt and not forgetting the most important part...making cakes!
I managed to create some leaflets which I posted through neighbors doors and spread the word to as many people as possible.
When the day came, I was astonished with the amount of people who attended to support me and help me raise donations. It was a very enjoyable and successful day which left me feeling very humbled by everyones generosity.
I managed to raise an amazing £1,200 with donations still flooding in even after the event!
It has left me feeling very excited to come up with even more fundraising ideas and I am so pleased that I have been able to raise that amount of money just a few months after I was given my sport with the MS-UK team.
You can find out more about fundraising in aid of MS-UK by getting in touch with our team today using our online form!
‘Our sister and cousin, Nicola, 48 year old mother of three, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 2017.
‘Obviously such a diagnosis came as a shock to us all. From the beginning the support she has received from MS-UK has been tremendous. It gave her a forum to discuss her fears and engage with people who also have MS. In turn, it continues to give her strength and courage and is empowering her to live her life to the fullest.
‘Through Nicola we heard about the MS-UK sponsored places at the Royal Parks Half Marathon and as runners, it was an obvious way for us to give back, do an activity that we love, make a difference...all in all, a win-win situation.
‘Out the outset, as busy people, we wanted to keep our fundraising efforts simple to achieve our target of £800.
‘We canvassed family for their suggestions on how best to raise the money and the consensus was very much in favour of fundraising activities rather than just donations. This enabled us to bring our family and friends together and the desire to have some fun along the way!
‘We agreed our two events would be a garden tea party and a quiz to make the most of the lovely summer we had this year. Both activities exceeded our expectations – you can see we raised an amazing amount on our fundraising page!
‘The key challenge for us was to ensure that our guests at both events went away feeling they had an enjoyable experience and the £10 fee was good value. Feedback from both events exceeded our expectations, with suggestions we should set up our own afternoon tea business and turn the quiz into an annual event.
‘We smashed our target and raised approximately £1,200, which enabled us to spend the latter two months focusing on training for the race.
‘Both of us came away from this experience feeling a sense of pride in achieving some personal physical targets (we both set a new personal best) and in our own small way we have made a difference.
‘So what’s next? We are delighted to be volunteer stewards for the upcoming Colchester Half Marathon and looking to engage as many family members. Maybe we will see you there!
Karen and Maxine
‘After missing the chance to run the Virgin Money London Marathon through the ballot, I decided that for 2019 I would fundraise for a charity close to my heart, MS-UK. I'm pushing hard, taking on multiple challenges and races between now and the marathon. So far, fundraising is going ok.
‘My Dad was diagnosed with MS when I was a child. I still remember the day he sat me down and told me. I had no idea how bad MS was or how it was going to change our lives and yet it still tore me apart.
‘Sitting here now typing this still breaks my heart and brings a tear to my eye.
‘For the past 20+ years, I've seen MS take my father away from me. At first, it was only really fatigue that was noticeable and a few days where he wasn't great on his legs.
‘As time went on, he lost the ability to drive and eventually couldn't even walk or feed himself.
‘MS has also damaged his brain, wiping out his short term memory and his ability to talk. This has been the biggest impact on me, not being able to speak to him, ask him questions and all the things a son should be able to ask his father.
‘I regret not making the most of the last good years with him while I still had the chance.
My Mum cares for my Dad 24/7 which really takes its toll on her, she's stubborn though and does everything she can for him.
I chose MS-UK and the London Marathon to show my support for my family and to raise as many funds for such a supportive MS charity that gets much of its funding through the London Marathon charity places.’
You can find out more and make a donation on Gavin's JustGiving page.
This weekend our amazing #TeamPurple runners will be taking on the challenge of the Royal Parks Half Marathon - good luck!
The event kicks off at 9am on Sunday 14 October and is set in four of London's Royal Parks: Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James's Park and Kensington Gardens. It is the perfect autumnal tour of central London’s most exquisite outdoor spaces, and we can't wait to cheer everyone on!
If you can't make the event but want to stay updated, you can follow @MSUK6 on Twitter and enjoy the action in real time!
Good luck from all of us here at MS-UK, your efforts mean we can support people affected by multiple sclerosis to really make the most of each day - thank you!
Fancy being in with a chance of winning a £25 Debenhams gift card?
This weekend is the last chance to make sure your voice is heard in our supporter survey - so please do let us know what you think by taking our survey! The survey closes on Monday 24 September 2018.
The prize draw will be on Tuesday 25 September, so by next weekend you could be going shopping!
Good luck, and thank you for giving us your feedback, it really does help us plan for the future,
Fundraising Manager, MS-UK
Meet the winners of this year's Friends of MS-UK Awards!
Every day this week, we'll be revealing each of the well-deserved winners and finding out, in their own words, what it means to be awarded such an accolade...
Since 2011, ‘Miss Sparkle’ has been inspiring those around her to support MS-UK. Susan has raised over £21,000 for the charity and has run eight marathons, not to mention taking part in many other events! Above all, Suzy has made an amazing achievement this year, as she has enabled MS-UK to reach out to 28 new supporters, all of who are runners Suzy has recruited into the Virgin Sport British 10k event.
Susan has always been surrounded by multiple sclerosis (MS), through friends and family, and chose to fundraise for MS-UK because we offer practical, unbiased information and support to anyone affected by MS.
She said: 'This award comes as a little bit of a surprise, but I feel very humbled to even have been considered. I’m just doing what I do best and that’s running, then boring everyone so much that they sponsor me just to shut up! I’m looking forward to receiving the trophy, which I will display very proudly next to my ‘MS-UK sponsor me’ table where I work, I’m sure people will feel even more generous for future events.'
In our latest guest blog, Julie Squires tells us about why she decided to run the Virgin Sport British 10k at the tender age of 50.
I met my partner David 13 years ago on 02 July 2005. He told me straight away that he had multiple sclerosis (MS) and to be honest, at that time, I knew little about the illness.
We went out on a Saturday night but David had told me he couldn’t have too late an evening as he was up early Sunday to run the Virgin Sport British 10k raising funds for an MS charity.
I knew I must have liked him a lot as I dragged myself out of bed at 6am to head up to London to watch him run!
So when I decided to take up running earlier this year at the grand old age of 50, David said it would be good if I ran the Virgin Sport British 10k, just like he had 13 years ago. This gave me something to focus on (as when I started I couldn’t run to the end of the road, never mind 10k)! But here I am, seven months later, running 10k at least once a week thanks to the ‘Beginners to Runners’ Ashford Club and David for giving me something to aim for.
David was diagnosed with Relapse Remitting MS when he was 32. I didn’t know him then but can only imagine the shock of learning something so life changing.
David has pushed himself to make the most of what he is able to do now rather than putting it off until later, which we can all be guilty of. Since I met him he has achieved so much in defiance of his MS.
He got his motor racing licence, he’s taken up cycling and keeps himself as fit as possible. He wouldn’t be able to run anymore, but he has found other things to do to make sure he’s as fit as he possibly can be.
So this one’s for you David Williams. You are a true inspiration. You are always so positive in the face of this horrible illness. Yes, there are hard times, but we get through them and our beautiful son and I could not love you more.
On Sunday a team of 50 people braved the scorching heat to complete the Virgin Sport British 10k for MS-UK and turn the streets of London purple!
The runners included eight from Carter Backer Winter (CBW), an accountancy firm based in the capital who have named MS-UK as their charity of the year, and a team of 30 Slimming World members who have so far raised an enormous £12,528! One of the members who lives with multiple sclerosis (MS) took part in her self-propelled wheelchair and managed to walk the last ten metres, bringing tears to the eyes of friends and family, as well as the spectators who had gathered to watch.
The atmosphere on the day was electric! Live music was played at every kilometre to motivate runners and keep the party going! A huge thank you to our volunteers for their cheerleading, whistle blowing and megaphone shouting in support of the MS-UK team. We couldn’t do these events without your support.
Lucy, our Community Fundraiser, took part in the race with her mum, brother and friends. She said: ‘We all had so much fun running the British 10k and representing #TeamPurple yesterday.
‘It was a scorching hot day but there was plenty of water being handed (and squirted!) out to help us on our way.
‘The atmosphere was absolutely amazing. There were drummers and DJs, and the MS-UK cheer point at the 5km mark was the loudest by far!’
#TeamPurple all have their own personal reasons for running the Virgin Sport British 10k for MS-UK, but are united by the fact they have all made a huge difference with the funds they have raised. Thanks to your support, we can keep providing our unique services to anyone affected by MS across the UK.
Jenny, Events Fundraiser.
Have our runners inspired you to take on a new challenge? Take part in an event for MS-UK today!
'I met Michael 14 years ago through his mother Dinah as she was aware that I was a personal trainer. She approached me and asked if I would be able to train him. I was made aware of Michael’s autism and became determined to give this fine young man the opportunity to get fit within different environments such as the gym and running outdoors.
'As he gained confidence with me and in different social surroundings Michael agreed to enter a local six-mile running event in Northampton for some fun and as a focus to train. He managed to complete it and seemed to enjoy the feeling of achieving something.
'From this we decided to increase the distance as he developed trust in me. We went on to complete a Daventry 10-mile event and The Hyde Park Half Marathon in 2011. We raised funds for The Autistic Society, approximately £1,500.
'I certainly had the belief that Michael was capable of anything, and towards the back of 2017 we had a brief discussion about entering him into a marathon. Making the impossible possible was to be my mission in the year of 2018 and I suggested the Milton Keynes Marathon would be realistic in May. We certainly had the weather against us at the start of the year with snow still falling in March which delayed our outdoor sessions somewhat. We literally had eight weeks of preparation leading up to the big event.
'Over the course of eight weeks Michael had to face so many barriers when training for the marathon. I had to ask him to change what he eats and when he eats, run during unusual times of the day and at weekends. Due to his autism this was not an easy task, but he trusted me and was able to overcome these difficulties. We successfully managed to train up to 20 miles and felt as ready as we could be leading up to the event.
'Two weeks before the event we decided to raise some money for charity. I suggested that we could run for MS-UK as my working colleague lives with MS and was fully aware of the effects and problems it has on an individual and families supporting this. We set a low target to begin with and as the money came in it soon become obvious that friends, families and the general public were right behind us and they loved our commitment, passion and ambition to complete such a mammoth task.
'On the day of the event, 07 May, it was to be one of the warmest bank holidays on record. We had this against us and at mile ten of the race Michael became affected by the heat and fell to the concrete. I felt devastated for Michael and thought that he was unable to carry on for a brief moment. But through positive talk, motivation and his determination Michael got back onto his feet and together we managed to complete the next 16 miles. It was undoubtedly one of the most challenging tasks I have ever done and to Michael a magic moment to savour for the rest of his life. It was a stadium finish with the crowd, family and friends behind him. He finished in six hours and six minutes. The emotion we both felt was beyond words. We did it!
'We made the impossible possible.
'Following the event it soon became clear that our target amount of money raised was totally smashed. We ended up raising over £3,000! It is so difficult to put this into perspective and we were totally blown away by everyone who supported us and offered kindness to us both.
'We have recently returned back to our regular training regime and Michael is absolutely certain he does not want to do it again next year! He keeps reminding me of this every time we head of out on a run!'