Running Against Hunger: Virgin Money London Marathon 2019
This Sunday, thirty runners from across the world will represent Action Against Hunger at the Virgin Money London Marathon 2019.
Apr 25 2019
On the morning of Sunday 28th April, thirty runners will be limbering up, ready to take on the Virgin Money London Marathon 2019 in support of Action Against Hunger.
From Montreal to Dulwich, Perth to Taipei, and Quezon City to Warrington, our runners come from across the globe, all united by the fight against hunger. Every marathon journey is different and each of our runners has faced their own challenges. But together they have each clocked up hundreds of miles on the road, overcoming injury, mental barriers and dreaded blisters just to make it to the start-line.
They stand to raise over £60,000 for our life-saving programmes and so we caught up with them to ask what their inspiration was and how they have found their experience so far.
Meet The Team
This weekend, Guy Heywood will become a marathon runner. He tells us “the time felt right” to take on this challenge after he racked up “over 1,000kms and set a personal best for a half” last year.
During his marathon journey, Guy has shown a real flair for fundraising. In March, he featured as one of our Star Supporters after exceeding his target in one night, raising £2,210 at a Promises Auction event. He says his experience of fundraising has been “a lot of hard work but worth every minute!” For Guy the decision to support Action Against Hunger was driven by being “grateful that my family and I don’t need to worry about being hungry” and wanting to highlight the cause.
Planning to celebrate with a milkshake and a good meal, we can’t wait to see Guy cross the marathon finish line for the first time!
For Jean-Marc Ducharme, completing the Virgin Money London Marathon will be a huge moment. This Sunday, Jean-Marc will complete the final race in the Abbot World Marathon Major Series, entering an exclusive group of runners who have accomplished this feat. London will be Jean-Marc’s 38th marathon in just over three years, and he tells us that his top tip is to remember, “it’s about the journey more than the race. Have fun and enjoy – the memories last forever”.
Volunteering and fundraising has been “contagious” for Jean-Marc, finding that you “take out as much as, or more than, you put in”. Working alongside friends and colleagues at a local food bank in Montreal, he says that the choice to represent Action Against Hunger at the Virgin Money London Marathon “just made a lot of sense”.
Last year, Liz Schofield watched the Virgin Money London Marathon on the TV and found herself asking if she could do it too. Inspired by the event, Liz signed up to run for Action Against Hunger after learning about our work through her company, Well&Truly, who are one of our corporate partners.
However, Liz hasn’t stopped there but has instead decided to take on TWO epic challenges in support of Action Against Hunger this year. Following this weekend’s race, she will also be taking on an ultra-marathon in July!
As both races approach she tells us she is now experiencing “full blown Mara-noia”. However, a new-found “love of true crime podcasts” and exploring “parts of the city I’ve never been to before” have kept her going through her many hours of training. She even took her trainers on holiday and ran “around a tiny Japanese village at sun set, I would never have done that last year!”
Kaleem Afzal has a simple belief that everyone should have access to the basic necessities of life. He says that “if nothing else then food and water are a must for everyone”. After completing the Virgin Money London Marathon in 2015 for WaterAid, Kaleem has joined the Action Against Hunger team this year to drive home that message.
For him, the journey was also about “improving his self-confidence, conquering the ‘beast’ which is the marathon and inspiring others to be more generous”. Although at times his training has proved difficult and he has found himself questioning “why on earth did you sign up for this?” his family and community have rallied around.
His favourite part of fundraising has been that, “so many people have donated and been incredibly generous, it restores your faith in humanity to know there are some seriously good people out there.”
Siobhán and Lea McManus-Price
Siobhán McManus-Price won’t be taking on this weekend’s race alone but instead will be accompanied by her husband, Lea. After watching her friend take on the race last year, Siobhán promised herself that she'd be on the start line too in 2019.
Training and fundraising together, the couple have motivated each other along with some "friendly marital rivalry". They recently held a charity gig, inspired by Live Aid, and managed to raise almost £1,000 in a single night. Siobhán tells us that Action Against Hunger felt like a "really relevant cause" for her to support, having always been committed to charities that work towards eliminating poverty.
Family support has been key to Siobhán's success, including an early long training run with her Mum at the seafront, who drove alongside to cheer her on in the freezing coastal winds. She says, "those moments are the most memorable and the support is what carries you through. I can't wait to spot my cheerleaders on the day who have been there even on the freezing cold Sunday mornings!"
For Siobhán, “the entire experience is a rollercoaster! The marathon is a victory lap and those runs you did in the snow at 6am in February are all leading up to this moment.”
Nicos Symeou is no stranger to the London Marathon. On Sunday, he will stand on the start-line for the 22nd time, in a London Marathon career, which started back in 1982. He says that “there is nowhere else I would rather be on marathon day than running the event”. Ever since his first marathon, running for charity has been important in motivating him.
This year will be the fourth time that Nicos has supported Action Against Hunger. His fundraising has included a massive charity dinner supported by 80 people. He says he chose to support our work as “Action Against Hunger does a fantastic job helping malnourished children in the poorest areas of the world.”
For Nicos, “the London Marathon is a special event. It is so emotional, the crowds are amazing and they keep you going. Everyone is in it together and the runners support each other too. It literally is NO PAIN, NO GAIN!”
Thank you to all of our amazing runners and to everyone who has supported them throughout their marathon journey. We can't wait to cheer you on this Sunday and see you finally cross the finish-line!
Inspired by what you see? Join the #ActionTeam and challenge yourself in aid of our lifesaving programmes.
London Marathon 2020
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