Laura Barber Riley, fundraising for Genetic Disorders UK, ran the Virgin Money London Marathon 2018. She shares her learnings from the day.

Logo for Genetic Disorders UK

After a day-by-day countdown, five months of training, and sustained fundraising efforts in support of Genetic Disorders UK, I took part in the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon on 22nd April. It was also my first marathon.

Along with around 40,000 other runners, I ran in boiling hot temperatures, cheered on by amazingly supportive crowds. It was a fantastic experience and I’m proud to have stayed the course. I’d definitely consider doing another marathon again but preferably not in the same weather conditions, so I’d be able to push myself harder.

The ballot for next year’s marathon opened on 30th April. I hope many others get to have this experience and to raise money for charities dear to them. Here are my learnings from the day.

  • Beware weather – The extremely hot weather made running conditions very difficult. We were advised by officials not to push ourselves and to take it easy. Even so, it was hard going and at times almost surreal, including seeing others struggling.
  • Be clear on your goal – In view of the weather, on the day, and after all the time spent training, my goal became simply to finish the marathon rather than complete it in a specific time.
  • Have a strategy – Some people run in groups while others run alone – I did a mixture of both. At one point I bumped into others supporting Genetic Disorders and ran with them for 5-6 miles. But after that I decided to continue alone.
  • Manage pain – The last five miles in particular were really painful. In view of the weather and the warnings about it, seeing the impact on others, and feeling exhausted, I decided to take it easy towards the end.
  • Congratulate yourself – Despite the above, I’m thrilled to have completed the marathon, and in 4 hours and 51 minutes. It was a big achievement, an incredible day and something I’ll never forget.

Support for Genetic Disorders UK

Most importantly I’m happy to have helped raise funds for Genetic Disorders UK. The charity does vital work in helping many children, and their families, affected by genetic conditions. I and my family have close ties with the organisation as my son Henry has Episodic Ataxia Type 2, a condition that can have a major impact on health and development. Having its support has made a difference to all of us.

Genetic Disorders UK is also Blackfinch’s chosen charity for 2018. With firsthand experience of the great work the charity does, I would like to ensure that it can help many others. You can make a donation via my fundraising page or by visiting the Genetic Disorders UK website. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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