A Sunday morning in April and down at Greenwich, over 37,000 runners stretched their calves, tied their laces for one last time and looked ahead to 26 miles of physical lows and emotional highs. Amongst them, thirteen had chosen to run for The National Brain Appeal, having pledged to raise over £25,000.
We joined their friends and family at the Embankment twenty-five mile mark to cheer our team along every step of the way. In a week that was interspersed with bright sunshine, strong spring rain showers (and even the odd hailstone) we knew that our runners would need even more support than ever to keep their heads up as they came into the last mile.
We had runners from Queen Square: Francine Freedman who had brought with her a huge team of very vocal supporters, Phil Barber who was cheered on by his two young daughters and Olivia Poole, a doctor from the National Hospital, all of whom wanted to “give something back” to their place of work.
Others were running for loved ones. Laura Hutchings was remembering her close friend and mother of two boys, Ann, who died suddenly from a brain tumour two years ago: “she has left a big hole in our lives and she is always missed when we meet up with old school friends”.
Elaine Connolly was running for her friend, Debbie, who is recovering from a brain tumour and currently undergoing an intensive course of radiotherapy. “Despite everything she manages to stay positive”, Elaine said, “people around her cannot help but adore her for courage in this adversity”. Elaine drew on support from friends in her netball, walking, running, wine tasting and outdoors clubs as well as organising a quiz night, race night and dress down Friday at the investment bank where she works
– we don’t know how she found the time to train!
Down by the riverside, it was a real family event with friends, family, work colleagues gathered to cheer on the effort and determination of the runners. Sam Colley, an own-place runner who had chosen to raise money for The National Brain Appeal, had brought his fiancée Claire, in-laws Debbie and Terry, sister-in-law Beci and partner Matt as he ran for his future sister-in-law Natalie, a patient at The National Hospital.
Perhaps the best words that summarise the day, came from Liz Bushell, running on the twenty-fifth anniversary of her father’s death, who said “it’s more about completing and achievement than time”.
Whether our runners flew over the finishing line in a personal best or came in a few hours later, they were all amazing and we are so grateful to them for deciding to support us. Every person has a story and to us, they’re all our heroes.
Find out more about our running events and how you can be a cheerleader here