Tag Archives: London Marathon

I’ve cheered at 10 London Marathons – here’s why I keep going back

The clock is already ticking – just 5 days until the start of the Virgin Media London Marathon 2018. This year over 100 brave runners will be taking part to raise money for Scope. And we’ll be fielding another team on the day – the volunteers who shout themselves hoarse at our cheering points*. Carol, a veteran of many cheering points, tells us why the marathon is such a great day out, even if you don’t run.

This year I’ll be taking part in my 10th London Marathon (cheering point). Every year people ask me “What’s the big deal? Why are you so excited?” and I have to confess that it’s addictive.

Collage of marathon costume photos including a dog, Mr Tickle, T Rex and the Tardis
Did I mention the Marathon costumes? They are epic!

Logically, standing around for the better part of a day to watch more than 35,000 total strangers run past should not be so rewarding, but it is. This year there’s the added bonus of fine weather but frankly most of us would be cheering in the pouring rain if we had to.

There’s a great party atmosphere at cheering points; usually someone is playing music loudly nearby, and you know that you might meet some old friends and certainly make some new ones. In fact, the Marathon has been described as “London’s 26-mile long street party”.  But there’s more to it than that.

In a small way, you’ve helped someone achieve something awesome

Predictably, when someone in your charity’s running shirt passes by, the whole cheering point loses its collective cool; everyone goes wild, bangers are banged, whistles blown, and high-fives exchanged. But most charity cheering points will tell you that they don’t just cheer their own runners – they’ll cheer everyone, especially those runners who look like they need a boost.

And that’s when the Marathon Magic happens – when you spot a total stranger, flagging a bit as they run by.  You yell out their name and a bit of encouragement and you can see it having an effect. They perk up a bit, maybe even smile. Sometimes eye contact is made and you get a thumbs up. Sometimes they might even be able to gasp out a “Thank you” but that’s just a bonus.

After my first marathon charity cheering point, the fundraising team got a letter of thanks from one of their runners. This is from memory, but it went something like this:

“It was my first London Marathon and I didn’t know what to expect. By the time I got to Canary Wharf I was really struggling but then I rounded a corner and a wall of orange went berserk.

And in that moment, I knew I was going to make it to the finish line because ahead of me on the route there were more pockets of total strangers willing me to finish and no way was I going to disappoint them”

And that’s why we do it. You know that in a small way you’ve helped someone achieve something awesome. For me, that’s a pretty good use of a Sunday.

My top tips for cheerers

The runners get plenty of tips for getting through the day, but I’ve picked up a few myself for cheerers:

  • Essentials – water and food. You might be standing directly opposite a coffee shop but, once the runners start coming through, there’s no way you can reach it if it’s on the other side of the road.
  • Tech issues  – if you’re planning to take photos make sure you’ve got an extra camera battery or a spare power supply for your phone. Also, once things get busy, just accept that you will miss great stuff if you’ve got your head down over your phone. Getting a signal can be tough too, especially anywhere around the finish line.
  • Timing – check what time the runners will start passing your spot and allow plenty of time to get there. Areas around tube stations tend to get really jammed and, even with stewards directing traffic, you can spend 15 minutes just covering 100 yards.
  • Clothing – Check the weather forecast on the day but layers are best. If you’re standing with a charity, allow room for a T-shirt to go over the top. Also bear in mind if it’s sunny, that the sun will move (obvs!) during the day. Although you may start out chilly and in the shade, you might be in full-on sunshine by lunchtime – so it’s hats and/or sunscreen, people.
  • If you’re not on a charity cheering point (WHY NOT?), try not to be standing downstream of a water point. Once they’ve re-hydrated, runners tend to drop their bottles and, if any runners accidentally kick or tread on a discarded bottle, the contents can go everywhere, but mostly all over you. I found this out the year that Lucozade pouches – briefly – replaced water. It was sticky.

If this has made you realise what a great day out you’re missing, there’s still time to join one of Scope’s cheering points. 

You can just show up on the day or sign up online to get last-minute updates and information. Either way, here is all the information you’ll need.

*Purple wigs optional

‘Tears were shed. Fun was had’ – What it’s like running the London Marathon as a disabled person

Jay and Nicky both ran the London marathon for Scope on Sunday. In this blog they talk about taking on the challenge and share their experiences of the day.

Jay, from Winchester

Head and shoulders shot of a man smiling with a blurred background

Jay, 36, was born without a lower left arm and he wears a prosthetic arm in public. He has just run the London Marathon for Scope without his prosthesis – something he would normally wear to help him ‘blend in’ and feel ‘normal’.

Throughout my life I have always done everything my friends have done, including playing sports – I have even mastered one-handed golf. However, I have always felt self-conscious and experienced people staring, as well as people noticing my arm and then quickly looking away, as if they were embarrassed.

My prosthetic arm is held on by a silicone liner which doesn’t allow perspiration out. If I sweat during exercise water builds up and the arm starts to lose suction, meaning I have to hold onto it while I run, so it made more sense to run without it.

Sunday’s marathon was a big personal challenge, but I hope it helped in highlighting Scope’s work and gave others the courage to be themselves in public. I wanted to show other people, especially children, that if I can do this race without my arm then they can have the confidence to go out and not feel self-conscious about their own disability.

Shot of Jay running in a Scope vest

I woke up on the morning of the marathon feeling nervous. Not only was I going to be running the longest run of my life, I was going to be doing it without wearing my safety blanket, my prosthetic arm. Even going to breakfast in the hotel without my arm felt strange and travelling on the Tube was something I would never have done before, until that moment when I had to make my way to the start line.

I felt great for the first 14-16 miles. I did the first half in 1hr 48 mins. The crowd were fantastic. I had no negativity, no one stared, all I felt was overwhelming support and encouragement. It was liberating running without my prosthetic arm — I felt much freer and the running felt easier by not having to carry the weight around. The real highlight, as for many runners, was that run over the iconic Tower Bridge. And running past familiar faces along the way and at the Scope cheering points!

The last two miles, although painful, were incredible. The ‘J’ was falling off my vest so people were calling out ‘Come on, Ay!’ or ‘Scope Runner’! and other runners on the Mall were trying to encourage me to get across the finish line. I basically collapsed at the end! But I had done it. And I was so pleased to have achieved my target time of sub 4 hours with a respectable finishing time of 3hrs 49 mins.

The marathon was one of the hardest things I have ever done but it was so rewarding. Scope’s support was fantastic – from phone calls in the build up to the race to the post-race reception (and birthday card!). They reminded me why I was doing this and I was so glad I did. I think I achieved my goal of showing the world that disability needn’t be a barrier and to raise awareness of this great charity.

Nicky, from the Netherlands

Nicky running in a Scope vest with her oxygen tank

Nicky, 29, has chronic lyme disease and persistent glandular fever. Due to her conditions Nicky wore an oxygen mask, attached to a 2 kg oxygen tank during the marathon, to allow a continuous stream of 98% oxygen to be pumped into her lungs.

Last year I decided I was just going to do it, and sign up for the marathon. I was on crutches at the time – my illness had left me barely able to walk. I’m a very determined person though and my running training progressed well.  I wanted to show others that nothing should hold them back from following their dreams.

I ran the marathon because I believe I have a choice. I ran for those who don’t have that choice, and those who aren’t yet aware they have the choice.

Photo of Nicky sat on a bench tieing her shoelace

Race day was there before I knew it. I knew I was getting sick because my body was showing symptoms the day before, but I was hoping I’d get to finish the marathon first. I was wrong. Seven miles in I spiked the highest fever I’ve ever experienced on a run. I was able to keep running for another mile, but then had to resort to walking. I threw up (sorry, spectators) and knew I should stop. Along came Jess, some stranger who was running for another charity. She walked with me for a while and got me running again. Just one foot in front of the other. The crowds were amazing. Running with oxygen is hard (I bruised two ribs) and the pain in my lungs was insane, but everyone was rooting for me. I may have cried a few times.

Two miles later it was Jess who had to stop. She was in more pain than I could imagine at the time. She kept telling me to keep going and not let her slow me down, but we were in this together and I wasn’t about to leave her behind. I managed to grab a sign saying “Go Jess” from her friends in the audience and spent a couple of miles getting the crowds to cheer her on the way they’d been cheering me on the whole time. Tears were shed. Fun was had.
She wouldn’t have finished without me. I wouldn’t have finished without her.

Whether you’re physically ill, disabled, mentally ill, or just going through a really rough time: bad days are a marathon. Just keep moving forward the best way you know how. Try not to give up on yourself. And when you encounter someone whose hope is about to slip through their fingers, try not to let them give up on themselves either. We can all do this alone, but we are all better together.

Fancy taking on a challenge yourself? Sign up for 2018 or check out some of our other challenge events.

Why we’re taking on the London Marathon for Scope

Vicky, Louise and Nina are running the London Marathon for Scope – “a charity close to our family’s heart”. In this blog, Vicky, her sister Mell and her nephew Moss, all talk about why raising money for Scope means so much to them, and why they are excited to take on this challenge! 

“My little sisters have decided to run the London marathon!”

They are raising money for Scope – a charity close to our family’s heart.

My eldest son, Moss, has cerebral palsy. Thanks to Scope’s support, and against the odds (prognosis was that he would never walk), he took his first unaided steps when he was almost four. To hold your child in your arms and be told that life would not be the same for him as it was for his peers was the hardest moment in my life. Scope gave us hope.

To be able to walk into school on his first day and be able to stand up in a bar and look at people in the eye when he was older – that was my goal. My son is now more independent than any other lad of his age I know. With the use of sticks he walked into his first day at school and he walks into bars on his feet often! To say I am proud of him wouldn’t even ‘cut the mustard’ (if that’s a real saying?)

This, I know was down to the support of Scope at the beginning of our journey. I am mega proud of my little sisters for doing this. I hope Scope’s support for parents continues as I honestly don’t know what we would have done without them.

“I’m so happy that my aunts are running for Scope”

Scope had a huge impact on my life. If it wasn’t for Scope and the encouragement from my mum I wouldn’t be able to walk unaided now. When I was a kid I was told I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life but that’s not the case and that’s down to Scope and my mum.

I’m so proud and happy  that my aunts, Vicky and Louise, are running for Scope. I didn’t realise they knew so much about how Scope helped me when I was growing up, so it’s great they are raising money for Scope. I work at Scope now so I really appreciate where the fundraising goes and how important it is.

I really hope to be there to support them on race day. My dissertation is due though so I don’t know if I can make it, but fingers crossed I can be!

Head and shoulders shot of Vicky and Louise smiling with a field in the background

“I’m really looking forward to marathon day”

I started running last February as I wanted to get fit after having my two children. I started the ‘Couch to 5k’ on my phone. This developed into entering 10k races and a half marathon with my younger sister Louise. Then we decided we wanted a challenge as I was turning 40 this year and we entered the London marathon.

Running for Scope was a natural choice for us because our nephew Moss has cerebral palsy. Without being supported by Scope we really believe he would possibly be in a wheelchair, rather than having the strength and determination to walk with his crutches. Scope also offered my older sister Mell the support she needed when Moss was growing. We met other families who benefited from Scope’s service too and have family friends who have also greatly appreciated the service Scope provides.

I’ve loved training for the marathon with my sister and our friend Nina has been a huge part of it too. It’s been challenging and tiring at times but we have all pulled each other along. When my legs are stiff and tired at the end of a run I think of my nephew and this makes me more determined and motivated to carry on and more proud of him. He is one totally amazing person.

I’m really looking forward to marathon day and running for Scope. Although I’m feeling a little overwhelmed about how many people are going to be there! We really feel that Scope are an amazing charity and we’ve all been working hard to fundraise so that they can continue the great work they do.

Want to help Vicky, Louise and Nina reach their goal? Make a donation on their fundraising page.

If you fancy taking on a challenge, sign up for 2018 or check out some of our other events!

It’s amazing to be running for Scope in memory of my friend

Louise is taking on the iconic London Marathon tomorrow! Here she talks about what’s inspired her sign up to the challenge and raise money for Scope. 

“It’s amazing to be running for Scope in memory of my friend, as well as taking on a personal challenge.”

Photo pf Louisa smiling at the cameraI live in South West London with a group of friends and work at a school as a secretary. I have just qualified as a personal trainer and am generally an active person. I ran my first London Marathon in 2015 so I’m really looking forward to improving this year and trying to do better than my last time. I am being a bit optimistic and aiming for the four hour mark!

Remembering Tom

This year I chose to run for Scope because I have known people who have disabilities and know the impact that disabilities can have. My family friend Tom had muscular dystrophy and used a wheelchair from quite a young age. He was cared for at home by his mum, and later on he was able to live in a supported living home. He wasn’t able to live by himself, but it was really nice that he had a place that gave him some freedom; he loved his independence. Tom sadly passed away at the age of 21.

I am partly running this marathon in memory of Tom. He was a real computer whiz and loved the sounds he could create and pictures he could make. He also loved photos and enjoyed showing us his photo albums and pictures of his family. He loved my mum and enjoyed it when she used to babysit for him when he was living at home. As I said, he also really valued his independence.

His family are lovely and pleased that I am remembering Tom by running for Scope. It’s always nice to have someone close to you remembered by someone else. They will be cheering me on; hopefully they can spot me in the crowds!

What keeps me going

Part of what spurs me on is that I enjoy a challenge. My main aim is to do better than I did last year and to know that I’m still improving. My dad did the marathon when he was my age and I know that he is really proud of me, which also keeps me motivated.Scope cheerers at the London Marathon

I love the support at the marathon; there are three to four miles where you want to collapse but the rest is just such a fantastic atmosphere. It’s really great wearing your charity’s shirt across the line and it’s amazing to be running for Scope in memory of my friend, as well as taking on a personal challenge.

I actually want to be part of the crowd one year as it looks like a really good day out. If anything I think that it might be harder standing in the crowd all day than actually doing the running!

We have lots of lovely Scope runners like Louisa taking part in this week’s London Marathon, many of them running in memory of someone special. If you’d like to get involved, you can sponsor Louise, or you can help us cheer them on!  

If you’d like to donate in memory of someone special to you, get in touch in the comments below or email us. 

Cheer on our runners in the London Marathon

Come and volunteer with our events team at the London Marathon on Sunday 24 April and join our cheer spots along the route. You’ll be helping keep our 120 Scope runners motivated to keep going! 

Our main cheer spot will be near St George’s Gardens (102-106 The Highway, Shadwell, E1W 2BU), where runners will pass by at miles 13.5 and loop back around so you will see them again at mile 21.5. We will have cheer equipment, t-shirts and drumming facilitators so you can create some groovy rhythms and support our fundraisers on this incredible challenge. Cheering really does make a difference to our fundraisers and we pride ourselves on being one of the largest and fun cheer squads on the route!A screenshot of the google map showing the cheer spot location

We also have a cheer spot at mile 25 next to Embankment tube station, so you can help the runners along their final stretch to the finish line.

We hope to see you there! If you have any questions, email events@scope.org.uk 

Why I’m running the London Marathon for Scope

Ruth is running the London Marathon for Scope this weekend. Here she says what’s inspired her to get training. 

“When it gets hard I remember I am running for Maria.”

I’m from Durham originally, I lived in Newcastle while I was at university and then in nearby Gateshead for several years. I now live in east London and work for the University of Sunderland.

I like all aspects of keeping fit and I’ve recently taken up boxing and yoga – which have really helped with the running training (which is not as kind on my knees the older I get). I am also currently studying for my PhD which should take up all of my spare time – but have suddenly found that I can be easily distracted by trying to teach myself the guitar and any opportunity to see live music!

The London Marathon is the greatest running event

All in all I have run 12 marathons. My fellow Geordies will hate me for saying this (as we love the Great North Run so much) but for me the London Marathon is the greatest running event. I love the atmosphere and the crowd, I love feeling like for one day only London belongs to runners and not cars. I love running past my office in Canary Wharf, and past my front door and of course up the mall to the finish.

Running in memory of my friend

My friend Maria was the most loving, funny and beautiful angel. Her smile could light up a room. I was Maria’s babysitter throughout my teenage years and her whole family are very close friends of mine. Maria died suddenly in October of 2015 and it hit me very hard, it seemed so unfair that such a beautiful person was taken from our lives.

This year as I’m running in memory of my friend, I feel it will be an emotional day. I find that I think a lot about her on my long runs. and when it gets hard I remember I am running for Maria. I will be raising a glass of something sparkling to her on 24 April after the run!

Why I chose Scope

A selfie of Ruth in her purple Scope running vestThe reason I chose to run for Scope is that I’ve always had a connection with disability. My parents travel to Lourdes in France every year to take ill and disabled people there and I have travelled with them since I was a child. My mam also worked her whole life in a special needs school, and for a number of years I got involved in volunteering as a swimming and athletics coach, and taking young people with disabilities to Italy annually for a skiing trip – which was always a memorable experience.

Ruth is just one of our amazing Scope supporters taking part in this week’s London Marathon and one of the many runners who will be taking part in memory of a loved one. We know that she will do Maria proud! If you’d like to sponsor Ruth, visit her fundraising page

If you’d like to donate in memory of someone special to you, get in touch in the comments below or email us. 

If I can complete the marathon I know that I can achieve anything

Guest blog from Neoma. Neoma is running the London Marathon for Scope this Sunday. She set herself the challenge and has been training hard to try and stay positive after suffering massive nerve damage to her arm, which has left her with mobility issues. 

Twelve years ago when I still lived in Australia I went for a routine blood test and the doctor hit an artery, which bled into a major nerve in my elbow.

I was rushed in for an operation, which we all hoped had repaired the damage fully. But two years ago I started to experience swelling and burning in my arm.

Then one day I was driving home from work and I had a series of painful spasms in my neck, shoulder and back. It was terrifying.

An investigation found that while the previous operation had provided a temporary fix, the method they had used had caused further massive nerve damage.

The doctors broke the news that I was 6 – 12 months away from losing the use of my arm completely unless they could operate immediately to repair some of the damage caused. It was really frightening.

Life changing

That was in February last year and since the operation the doctors and I are still hopeful that I’ll make a full recovery. But at this point I’m still in constant pain and I don’t have the full use of my arm.

I think that the loss of independence has been the hardest thing. My husband now has to help me with things like tying my shoelaces and drying my hair so it’s affected us as a family.

I also had to give up my regular job and go part-time in a different job because of my health problems. But the hardest time was when I couldn’t work at all, I was stuck at home, barely saw anybody and I got really down about everything.

I set myself a challenge

NeomaI had some counselling and then decided that I needed to give myself a personal goal to focus on.  Before all of this happened I was really into my sports especially netball and jogging, so I signed up to do the London Marathon this year and Scope is the charity that I’m running for.

I still hope that my situation is temporary and I don’t consider myself disabled.  But these past years have helped me understand much more about what some disabled people must go through. You just don’t realise until you’ve been there yourself.

The training has been incredibly tough but it’s really helped me to stay positive. I’m in a lot of pain and the medication I’m on makes me tired, so it’s hard to get motivated some days.  But I set the marathon as a challenge to myself, and if I can complete the course I know that I can achieve anything.

You can sponsor Neoma for her fundraising efforts or donate by texting NEMO76 and the amount to 70070.

With your help Scope can be there for more disabled people and their families when they need us most. Find out more about Scope’s fundraising challenges.

Can I give more? The answer is usually yes.

For the past few months I have been writing blog posts to showcase the amazing grit and determination of our event participants as they’ve supported Scope by taking on marathons, triathlons and extreme bike rides.

Now it’s time to turn the spotlight on myself. I want to tell you about my personal running experience; the highs, the lows, and my motivation to pick up a pair of trainers again. The quote in the title is from Paul Tergat, a Kenyan professional marathon runner. I’ve found myself relating to him a lot recently!

The pledge

Back in April I made a promise to our director of fundraising, Alan Gosschalk, that at some point this event season I would get involved in a Scope challenge event. It’s almost a rite of passage in the events team.

Conveniently for me, my pledge went forgotten for some time. That was until we met our Ironman UK participants in Bolton in August. I told them it would be a walk in the park and that they would enjoy the whole experience – which made me feel like a total fraud!

I remembered my promise and decided it was time to stick to my word. That evening I signed up for my first ever 5K run.

These shoes were made for running…

I begun my training routine in earnest using the NHS couch to 5K training plan. I had seven weeks to make sure I would get round the course without stopping.

I decided to invest in a decent pair of running trainers after having gait analysis at a top running shop. Gait analysis is a system where the motion of your feet is analysed to make sure your get the correct footwear. This involves running on a treadmill at three different speeds whilst a staff member watches the angle of your feet.

I managed the 5K distance in training, and was aiming to improve my speed. But two days before my run disaster struck! On my last training run, I couldn’t even complete 500 metres. My shins were in agony. I hobbled home in tears, upset that my weeks of hard work had come to this.

But after talking to my brother – who was doing the run with me – I was determined to carry on. I thought the pain was caused by shin splints, pain and swelling in the lower legs as a result of my body not being used to running.

Race day

A hilly running route
A challenging course

On the day I turned up to Leeds Castle near Maidstone in Kent ready to give it my all. I hadn’t done my research on the course and was shocked when I was faced with a cross-country, hilly route. I had only trained on the roads in suburban London!

There was no time to worry about that though. The klaxon went and my adrenaline kicked in. Thankfully, my brother stayed with me the whole way, chatting to me non-stop and helping to keep my mind off the pain.

Sarah Bowes after completing a 5K run
Happy after completing my first 5K

We crossed the finish line in exactly 37 minutes and I was thrilled! It took a good 48 hours to wipe the huge smile from my face and I was incredibly proud that I had actually done it, bursting into tears of exhilaration.

It may not be the quickest time but I know that my efforts in training and fundraising would make a big difference to the cause I was supporting.

The future?

Eight and a half weeks ago I couldn’t run the 200m from my house to the top of the road and I’m more determined than ever not to get in that state again. My doctor confirmed that the pain in my legs is shin splints so I have three weeks off from running, dancing or jumping to recover.

But I will be back to running as soon as I can. I know 5km is not the longest of distances but for me it was a big personal challenge that I managed to overcome.

My brother and I are already looking to do another 5K before Christmas. My aim for 2014 is to get a minute a month off my 5K time by pushing myself like Paul Tergat. When I can comfortably do a 30 minute 5K I will increase my distance and go for 10K. Watch this space!

If my story has encouraged you to get up off the couch, take a look at what Scope event you could get involved in next year.

Video of the week: Looking for a great charity running team?

Looking for a great charity running team for your 10k race, half marathon, marathon or Ultra?

If so, look no further than Scope because whatever your charity event, running for Team Scope means awesome team spirit and an amazing cause to support. But don’t take our word for it.

This new video features some of our runners from the last couple of years talking about why we’re the best at events like the London Marathon, Brighton Marathon, Royal Parks Half Marathon and Ultra.