Having run the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2015 Samira Sharrif vowed to never to do it again, but here she is again and she explains why
In December 2019 I read an article on our work intranet looking for volunteers to enter a ballot for the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon. This article seemed to be talking to me directly - it was playing on mind for days - so, I entered the ballot.
Later in December 2019 my husband and two children watched the film ‘Britany Runs a Marathon’. The movie was all about a woman who had no real purpose in life, but with sheer determination wanted to succeed in achieving something big!
I do have a purpose in life - but the connection I had with the film was the ‘sheer determination’ in doing something to make a big difference. So, as we celebrated the New Year I said to myself, “This is the year I exceed my own expectations and run the Virgin Money London Marathon”.
The work ballot was drawn, and I didn’t get a place…
I was very downhearted, which made me feel even more determined and that feeling of “I’m not going to give up just yet” was here to stay.
In the past, I have run for charities such as Cancer Research, Breast Cancer, Children with Disabilities and Protecting Children from Cruelty. All of these charities are about supporting people just like you and me - so my motto “make a difference” applies to all.
So, I thought of which charity I’d like to contact to make a real difference and multiple sclerosis (MS) was one I had been thinking about for a while for a few reasons. One of the reasons was the struggle an ex-manager had with his wife living with MS and imagining how life was for him and his daughter. The second was because of a relative whose brother lived with MS but unfortunately passed away.
I feel we take life for granted sometimes and whilst we are all here living and breathing we should all help raise awareness and support charities to find cures - you never know if you will need to rely on these charities for help yourself or for a loved one one day.
So, on Friday 17 January 2020, I rang MS-UK and asked if there was a place in the Virgin Money London Marathon and to my astonishment, Lucy from the MS-UK fundraising team said “Yes”! I felt very emotional and excited both at the same time. I had a great feeling about this!
On Saturday 18 January, regardless of whether I was accepted, I ran 5.5 miles at 7am. The feel-good factor kicked in and I had a gut feeling I was going to achieve my first goal of 2020.
On Monday 20 January Lucy called me and gave me the best news for 2020, I had been accepted to run the Virgin Money London Marathon in aid of MS-UK. I was absolutely delighted and accepted there and then!
Being a late entry, the challenge was on…
I set up my JustGiving page and reached out to all my contacts to donate on 21 January. My friend called me and said she really wanted to help me achieve my target and offered to host a luncheon for some of the ladies in the community, with a raffle and possible auction - we agreed a date in February.
I built my training plan and factored in two light runs on weekdays, with a longer run at the weekend. On track and on target! Off I went and ordered props to promote awareness and personalise the event to generate more excitement and enthusiasm.
By Wednesday 04 February I had reached my halfway mark of £1000, I was feeling good! The Hungry for Haleem Luncheon was scheduled for Friday 07 February. We raised a total of £586.50 with £10 entry, raffle and auction. Following this event, over the weekend a flurry of donations came through and I reached over £2,000. That’s three weeks into my challenge! However, I was determined to reach greater heights, so I organised a work raffle and raise £154.
Overwhelmingly my sister has also been raising funds for me a guess the number of sweets in a jar challenge at her workplace and raised another £102 added to my fundraising total to support MS-UK.
If you have been inspired by Samira’s story, please donate to her JustGiving page by clicking here.