Meet some of the inspiring participants getting ready for 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon
Every year thousands of participants complete the Virgin Money London Marathon for their own personal reasons – to achieve a personal best time, to challenge themselves, to tick it off their bucket list, and to raise money and awareness for charitable causes close to their hearts. And this year is no different.
On Sunday 3 October, the Virgin Money London Marathon will return to its iconic central London course for the first time in 889 days after last being held there in April 2019. Our campaign, We Run Together, celebrates the determination, dedication and perseverance of the many thousands of people who have waited 18 long months to get to the Start Line on Sunday 3 October.
Here is a selection of inspiring stories from some of this year’s participants:
Louise Bartha, 47, from Brighton
Mum-of-two Louise was first diagnosed with melanoma in 2016, followed by basal cell carcinoma two years later, and a lung cancer diagnosis in early 2019. Previously a fit non-smoker, Louise had a lung resection and then half her left lung removed. She credits running for helping her through her recovery and will be running the Virgin Money London Marathon for the first time in 2021, supporting this year’s Charity of the Year, Macmillan. Louise and her family have been supported throughout all of her diagnoses by Macmillan and she is now a volunteer at their Horizon Centre in Brighton, where she received counselling throughout her treatment.
Elliott Brock, 42, from Essex
The father-of-two will be running the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon alongside a woman whose life he saved 13 years ago. Elliott was 29 when he donated bone marrow to an eight-year-old stranger called Vicky Lawrence, who had an aggressive form of bone cancer. Fast-forward to 2021, and Vicky has made a full recovery and is now a medical student and a good friend of the man who saved her life. The pair will be running the Virgin Money London Marathon alongside one another to raise money for the Anthony Nolan blood cancer charity.
Adam Batterham, 42, from Fife
Army veteran Adam is taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon for SSAFA – the Armed Forces Charity. A chef in the Royal Logistic Corps for 15 years, Adam completed four operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, but has since suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health conditions. He attempted suicide twice in 2020 and SSAFA were there to support him back to good mental health. They helped secure him a place on their ‘Building for Heroes’ construction building maintenance course, as well as providing financial aid when he and his wife, Jackie, relocated to Scotland in 2019. Jackie served in the Royal Navy for eight years and last year suffered two minor heart attacks. All this meant 2020 was a tough year for Adam and running the Virgin Money London Marathon is his way of saying thank you to SSAFA and showing that anything is possible.
Alistair Douglass, 40, from Edinburgh
After three unsuccessful rounds of IVF, Alistair and his wife, Jo, were excited when she became pregnant with a baby boy. After what had been a straightforward pregnancy for 41 weeks, the couple were devastated when their son, Hope, was delivered stillborn in September 2020. The Scottish couple have raised more than £65,000 in his memory and Alistair will run his first-ever Virgin Money London Marathon for SiMBA, a charity that honours babies who have died, been stillborn or miscarried.
Robin Gogoi, 43, from Oxford
Robin was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in early 2021 and has credited his new-found love of running as helping to turn his diagnosis around. After becoming a father in late 2020, Robin was shocked to be told by doctors he had to take regular medication and monitor his blood glucose levels to treat the diabetes. He soon started running and, with the help of medication, his diabetes is now in remission. He runs between 40K and 50K a week on the country trails of Oxford with his dogs and is now looking forward to running the Virgin Money London Marathon for the first time with his young son and wife cheering him on.
Anja Madhvani, 31, from Leeds
In 2018 Anja was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), a contagious airborne disease, after completing the Marathon Des Sables. Anja spent 11 days in isolation and took many months to get better, both physically and mentally. Now fully recovered, she has been able to run again and is looking forward to completing the Virgin Money London Marathon for the charity TB Alert, which has been working to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK and India, using its expertise in the transmission of airborne diseases to support communities affected by both Covid-19 and TB.
Eleanor Mahmoud, 31, from London
Londoner Eleanor is running her first Virgin Money London Marathon for Neuroblastoma UK in memory of her brother, Neil. He died aged 14, a year before Eleanor was born, and would have turned 45 this year. She has loved training for her debut Virgin Money London Marathon and has documented her training throughout on @chasingele on Instagram. She is also one of the featured participants in the We Run Together campaign film.
Claire Nash & Wayne Flanagan, both 34, from London
Claire and Wayne are running in memory of their daughter, Jade, who died in January 2021, aged just 10 days old. Jade, named after the midwife who delivered her, suffered Hypoxic-Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE) during childbirth, an event that resulted in significant brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation and limited blood flow to her brain. Wayne was unable to be present at the birth as both Claire and Wayne had tested positive for Covid-19 three days before their daughter was born.
The couple are raising money for three organisations that helped care for Jade – Demelza Hospice Care for Children, Evelina London Children’s Hospital and Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust Charity.
Rajinder Singh, 74, from Slough
Rajinder Singh, the ‘Skipping Sikh’, was awarded an MBE for his services to health and fitness during the Covid-19 pandemic after raising more than £14,000 for the NHS by sharing videos of himself skipping on social media to encourage others to keep active during lockdown. This will be his first Virgin Money London Marathon and he is raising money for Mencap.
For more information on the featured stories please contact the London Marathon Press Office on firstname.lastname@example.org