Tag Archives: Running

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

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 nice knowing my hard work will make a difference” – Caroline takes on the Great South Run

Caroline is doing the Great South Run for Scope in honour of her friend, Vicky, who lost her leg in the Alton Towers Smiler crash.

For this blog, she chatted to us about her reasons for doing it, her journey so far and her determination despite her own injuries.

My friend Vicky was involved in the awful Alton Towers Smiler Crash where she lost her leg. She has had an incredibly tough time adjusting to her new life but has shown outstanding courage and bravery. She has overcome so many barriers and inspired thousands of people.

Despite her own heartbreak Vicky has helped me so much. Her courage has given me courage.

Vicky has sadly faced criticism and trolling online, which does get to her. I want to show her and other disabled people who have to deal with prejudice just how much support they have. It was after having a chat with one of my close friends, that I decided I wanted to do more for charity and for Vicky.

Why I’m supporting Scope

I chose to support Scope because they do such incredible work supporting disabled people and their families. They also campaign for equal rights which I think is amazing. I work as a teaching assistant, working with disabled students at a college in Cornwall. It’s an incredible job but sadly I see the prejudice they face every day, so the work that Scope does is very close to my heart.

caroline-2You’ve got to believe in yourself

Running or walking 10 miles doesn’t come naturally to me, but I know I can do it if I work at it. With help from my friends I have done lots of training for the run.

I have foot injuries so to run it would be very difficult. walking will be tough enough but I am determined to jog some too. I know that I can make it. You’ve just got to believe in your own abilities.

I organised a big fundraising event in my local pub

Tyacks Hotel have been so supportive and cannot thank them enough for all their help. I got so many incredible donations from so many local and national companies.

With all the amazing support from my family and friends it was a brilliant night and we raised £471 in just 3 hours. I was so pleased that I could do this for Scope and Vicky.

Some people didn’t think I’d be able to get great prizes or thought that it wouldn’t raise much. But I emailed a lot of companies, put myself out there, and got so many incredible prizes. The determination to help my friend was all I needed.

It’s nice knowing my hard work will make a difference

I get to help amazing charities and have an opportunity to do something great for myself and others. I feel like my hard work will make a real difference. Knowing it’ll be tough only makes me more determined to do it. I am very excited and just know it will be an incredible day.

My advice to anyone out there looking to take part in an event or raise money is don’t doubt yourself, we can all do things that we never expected.

If you feel inspired by Caroline and want to support Scope by taking part in one of our events, you can read more here. You can also sponsor Caroline here.

He’s the Paralympic hopeful who’s taking the athletic world by storm – Souleyman

30 under 30 logo

This story is part of 30 Under 30.

 

Souleyman is a 16 year old runner. He’s visually impaired but that hasn’t held him back – it just means he needs to find a different way of doing things. He recently took part in the Junior Paralympics and won gold.

As part of our 30 Under 30 campaign, he spoke to us about his love of running and competing, overcoming barriers and how he’s working towards the 2020 Paralympics.

Ever since I was young I really enjoyed competing. I always used to win races in primary school. I enjoyed sports day, I enjoyed all kinds of races at the park with my friends and it turned into a passion. In year 7 at high school my teacher said “you have a talent, you should join a club”. So I joined a club and started getting better.

The British Athletics Paralympics selected me to do the School Games, which is also known as the Junior Paralympics. This was in November last year and I won gold. I’ve competed for my club, Kingston, but to be at a major championship, it was a great experience. And Brazil itself was cool. The sun was out all day, it was warm, the people were amazing, and the vibe was so good.

I didn’t expect to be at that level so to actually come away being the world number one was a huge shock. I knew I was decent but I didn’t know I was that good. All my family and my friends were so buzzed, they were like “You’re going to be the next Usain Bolt”. Another door has opened, and it’s just a case of seeing where that can go.

Souleyman on the running track, smiling at the camera, hands on hips

Getting to the 2020 Paralympics

Competing at the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo is my main goal. My coach and I sat down and made a plan of what we’re going to do, how we’re going to get there. Before then there are championships like the Europeans, Commonwealth and World Championships – all these other competitions that I can compete at.

Wherever you hear “Olympics” you also hear “Paralympics” so there’s been a huge shift. It’s being acknowledged in society and people are seeing that disabled people can do the same things that non-disabled people can do. They just need to do it in a different way.

Souleyman running on the track

Overcoming challenges and attitudes

The way my visual impairment works – I can’t see through one eye, and the other eye is tunnel vision, so I don’t see what’s around me in my peripheral vision. It makes it hard to stay in my lane and see who’s next to me and how fast I should be running. I can see straight ahead, which is good for the 100m. But you need to see who’s beside you to judge your pace. It is very difficult in all areas of life.

People’s attitudes are quite frustrating. For some reason they think because I have a visual impairment or a disability I’m not cognitively able to do things. I’m not stupid, I just can’t see! I’m a huge believer in whatever you can imagine for yourself, you can achieve it. It’s about finding what needs to be overcome. Especially with me, with my visual impairment, I’ve never thought there’s something I can’t do. I can do it, but I have to find an alternative way of doing it.

Souleyman laughing and pouring a bottle of water over his head

Inspiring others

In athletics I want to achieve as much as possible. Whether it’s winning gold, getting a world record or being a role model for other people. After I won at the School Games in Brazil, visually impaired people and disabled people contacted me and said “It’s amazing what you’ve achieved as a young disabled person and you’ve inspired me” which is something I never thought I’d hear. That just made me want to push harder.

Souleyman is sharing his story as part of our 30 Under 30 campaign. We are releasing one story a day throughout June from disabled people under 30 who are doing extraordinary things. Read more from our #30toWatch on our website.

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. 

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.

Will you catch “the running bug”?

Like many of us, Ellen O’Donohoe was more likely to put her feet up on an evening then get out and go for a run. But that all changed when she caught the ‘running bug’ from her housemate and in just three weeks time Ellen will be running her first ever half marathon for Scope at Run to the Beat. Like many of our participant’s, Ellen’s motivations for signing-up with Scope are personal – here’s her story documenting her training, injuries and fundraising over the past few months:

I was never very sporty growing up. I was always happier reading a book rather than playing sports. I surprised myself by getting into running. I was looking for a way to exercise (to lose some weight, if I’m honest) and decided that sticking to an exercise routine would be easier with a friend so I began joining my housemate who liked to run. It took a while, and I didn’t see it happening, but I grew to love running.

A tough Winter

Even so, earlier this year, during the bitterly cold winter months, I was finding it harder and harder  to go running. I decided to sign up for a race, something I’ve never done before,  so that I would have something to work towards. Running for charity made sense to me because I knew it would help to keep me motivated. My cousin had cerebral palsy and knowing of the support that Scope provides to people like her made me want to raise money for them.

The highs and lows of training

I started training right away, I had a long way to go from my two-three miles every week. I steadily increased the miles I was doing and was very proud the first time I reached 10K. Something I never would have believed I could do just a few years ago. Unfortunately, I pushed too hard and pulled a calf muscle. It was so frustrating. I was unable to run for six weeks!

Ellen's Colleagues Limbering Up for their Bleep Test

During that time I focused on fundraising instead. I organised a sponsored bleep test at work and convinced a few colleagues to join me. I planned it well in advance so my leg had time to heal (although it was close) five racers took part, including myself, and together we raised nearly £80.

Ellen's relieved finishers!A dash to the confidence

To help with my training and to get me used to the race atmosphere I signed up for a shorter race. I agreed to be part of a relay team for the Upton Tri in July, running 10k. It happened to fall on one of the hottest days of the year. By the time I was due to run my section the temperature had already reached 30 degrees. It was horrible. I made it half way around before the heat got the better of me and forced me to walk/run the rest. It took me a long time to reach the finish line, so much longer than I hoped. I finished the race disheartened, wishing I could have done better and worried about what this might mean for the race in September.

A little over a week later, I ran 10 miles for the first time in training. It did wonders for my confidence. It was such a difference from my practice race. For the first time I felt that no matter what happened, I would be able to make it across the finish line.

Injury free until race day?

As far as fundraising goes, my friends and family have been very generous. I still have a little way to go to reach my target but I’m hopeful I’ll make it. For now, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I will stay injury free until race day. Despite all the ups and downs that I now know comes with training I hope, that by race day, I will be strong enough and prepared enough to run the whole 13.1 miles.

If you’d like to sponsor Ellen and help her reach her fundraising goal then do visit her online giving page. We’ll be there on race day to cheer Ellen and our other Team Scope runners along the Run to the Beat course – if you’d like to be there with us then please do volunteer by emailing us at events@scope.org.uk. Or why not take on your own challenge for Scope?

I’m an endurance athlete. With one leg. #100days100stories

We first published Chris’s story in 2013, and we’re sharing it again as part of Scope’s 100 days, 100 stories campaign. Four years after an awful motorbike accident, Chris Arthey took part in his first marathon as an amputee. 

Chris taking part in Run to the Beat 2012Hi, my name is Chris Arthey and I’m an endurance athlete. With one leg.

In 2008 my wife Denise and I both lost our left legs in a road accident. With lots of encouragement and modern technology we’ve been able to get mobile again.

Running was, and is once more, a big part of my life. In 2012 I completed my tenth full marathon. It was my first as an amputee. In this ‘revised configuration’ I’ve also competed in five triathlons and four half-marathons; in one of those I managed an age-group (55+) second place against able-bodied runners, which surprised a few people – me included!

My daughter Miriam was there to cheer me on in the 2012 marathon, and decided that she wanted to run a half-marathon herself. Because I’m a proud Dad I promised that wherever I was in the world I would fly home to London and we would run it together. So we signed up to raise funds for Scope in Run to the Beat and I travelled back from Texas for the event. We had a blast as a Dad-daughter team.

Chris and Miriam at the finishWe wanted to support Scope because of the outstanding work they do for disabled people. When you have a disability it’s very easy to get downhearted and frustrated, but support and resources can transform this.

Denise and I have been very fortunate to survive and put our lives back together. Take a look at our short biographical video. It’s good to be able to encourage others in the way that we have been encouraged. And to be able to build more family memories with Miriam and our two sons. Every day is a gift.

If you’ve been inspired by Chris and Denise’s story to take part in an event for Scope, take a look at what we have to offer on our website.

Find out more about 100 days, 100 stories and how you can get involved