A reflection on running the London Marathon for Myositis UK

More than 40,000 people took part in this year’s London Marathon including two of our very own supporters raising funds for Myositis UK – Zoe Betteridge and Richard Kirton.

We’d like to say a huge thanks to both Zoe and Richard for taking on this spectacular challenge and raising funds to help keep up the fight against rare muscle disease.

Some of you may remember Zoe. She was a research doctor interested in myositis who focused on autoantibodies and regularly spoke at Myositis UK’s conferences. We asked her to reflect on her experience running the London Marathon for Myositis UK.

My London Marathon experience

Towards the end of April, I had the privilege of running the London Marathon for the first time ever and am pleased to say that I manged to combine the opportunity with being able to raise money for a charity very close to my heart, Myositis UK.

The London marathon wasn’t my first marathon. I had run Taunton in April 2018 where I had an amazing day managing to come home as the third female overall, securing a ‘Good for Age’ automatic place for the London. However, whilst both races were 26.2 miles, Taunton was a much smaller affair with only approximately 500 runners (compared to 40,000), and a two-lap course where you hardly saw anyone on the second lap – I certainly can’t say that for the streets of London!

I was lucky enough to be running the London marathon with my best friend Kathryn, who had been through the experience for the last two years and managed to navigate us to the start with the minimum of stress. After a nervous and very chilly wait in the starting pen we were shuffling towards the start line for what would turn out to be one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

I had set myself a very ambitious target time of 3h20 however I was well aware that whilst it was possible, all the stars would need to align for that to happen. As it was, it turned out it wasn’t to be my day, having been reduced to nearly a walk with a stitch ½ a mile from the start (it turns out that sipping on water whilst waiting in the starting pen is not helpful – lesson learnt!)

After the bad start I was back up and running and managed to catch my friend up and run with her for the majority of the course, both of us supporting each other through the bad patches and steering each other through the crowds of runners. The atmosphere was electric and at times pretty deafening; there were supporters lining the barriers throughout the entire course and a real camaraderie between the runners.

I had passed the Cutty Shark in what seemed like minutes and got to experience the fantastic ambience of Tower Bridge whilst still feeling reasonably good. On the two-way stretch immediately afterwards, we unfortunately missed seeing Mo Farah coming back the other way by a couple of minutes, but still got to see a few of the elites on their way to the line making it look all too easy.

Next up was Canary Wharf where the fatigue started to hit. The marathon course seems to weave its way around the buildings for what seems like forever and coming around the corner to spy the O2 arena when I thought I was already heading back towards the centre was probably the least motivating point of my race.

Once I was finally back on the two-way section, I had the boost of seeing all the runners coming the other way and knew I was finally heading towards embankment and the finish. Unfortunately, by mile 20 my legs were getting very heavy and sore and my pace was starting to drop. Knowing that I was below my target pace it was time to switch to plan B – to ease back and start soaking in the atmosphere; at this point the plan was to enjoy the marathon and take in the experience…I certainly did the latter, but am not sure running the last six miles of a marathon with sore legs can be described as enjoyable!

The last mile seemed to stretch on forever, but eventually I crossed the finish line in 3hrs32 with a big smile on my face. It was not the time I was hoping for, but it was right at the top of the list of life’s amazing experiences.

Having collected my medal and kit bag it was time to shuffle to St James’ Park to meet up with Irene and Les at the Myositis UK post-marathon point for some much-needed seats, refreshments and bubbly! Not sure if the latter was the best way to re-hydrate but it was very nice!

A few photos later it was time to head back home whilst fully appreciating what it must be like for myositis patients to have raised creatine kinase (CK) levels and trouble going from sitting to standing.

Overall, I had an incredible experience; the last few miles of the marathon were extremely tough, but knowing that every step I took was raising money for Myositis UK and increasing awareness for the condition was more than enough motivation for me to make it to the line – so a big thank you to everyone who sponsored and supported me, and to Les and Irene for all their help on the day…I can’t wait to do it all again!

Donate to Zoe’s London Marathon fundraising page

Fancy taking on the London Marathon?

Every year, we have five charity places available for the London Marathon. Are you up for the challenge?

Run the London Marathon for Myositis UK

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