Team SportsAid’s London Marathon runners came together for a pre-race reception yesterday (23 February) to gain inspiration and advice as they build up towards taking on the world’s most iconic marathon. The charity has a team of 43 runners raising funds to help support the next generation of British athletes with their training and competition costs.
The runners, who gathered at SportsAid partner MyLotto24’s London offices, shared stories with each other about their training schedules, nutrition and fundraising, and their reasons for choosing to support the charity. Team SportsAid runners managed to collectively raise over £86,000 in 2016 - as the charity marked its 40th anniversary - with this year’s cohort looking to beat this impressive total!
The reception saw the runners welcomed by Tim Lawler, SportsAid chief executive, before hearing from Sarah Ottery, one of their team-mates who ran the London Marathon for the charity last year, and Paralympic silver medallist Toby Gold. They also received an introduction to Neat Nutrition, a partner of SportsAid, from Chess Grimwade who brought several products for them to take home.
“What you’re taking on shouldn’t be underestimated and choosing SportsAid is a real statement,” said Tim, who has run the London Marathon for SportsAid on a number of occasions. “We can’t run it for you but if we can give you a few tips and resources, emotional support along the way, we will always do that. Completing the London Marathon is absolutely massive. It’s an incredibly tough challenge.”
Natasha Bullock, an open-side flanker for Saracens Women’s 2XV, is one of Team SportsAid’s runners. A teacher at the Petersfield School in Hampshire, Natasha is also a keen netball player and has been squeezing in her London Marathon training around work and her other sporting commitments. Her fundraising has included hosting a teachers v students netball match at school!
“My training has been going really well,” said Natasha. “Last weekend, I covered 17 miles which is the furthest I’ve managed so far. I’d only planned to do 14 but got a bit carried away! I’ve been fitting in smaller runs after work in the evenings and have tried to incorporate different types of training. I feel like I would classify myself as a runner now as I’m entering extra races and attending different events!
“I am finding it quite challenging though. Finishing a school fixture, or finishing parents evening, knowing I have to go home and complete six or seven miles or a tempo run is hard especially when it’s cold and miserable. I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished a lot by the end of the race as I definitely wasn’t a runner when I started my training on 1 January. I’m sure it’ll be a really emotional day!
“I’m running for SportsAid as I get to see the importance of inspiring children as a teacher and helping them to believe anything is possible. Some of the children I teach are high-performing athletes and hopefully one day they’ll progress to SportsAid. Two of my Saracens team-mates are supported by SportsAid so knowing I’m helping them to succeed and achieve their dreams is nice too.”
Toby, who received SportsAid awards in 2013 and 2014, won silver in the T33 100m at the Rio Paralympic Games. He only took up wheelchair racing in 2011 and also competes over the 200m and 400m. During the reception, the 22-year-old informed the Team SportsAid runners about the help he gained from SportsAid and the importance of the support they are giving to the charity.
“The money from SportsAid was really helpful and it did take away the financial strain,” said Toby. “But, as well as that, and I would say the most important thing that people don’t necessarily see, is the fact it’s the first time you’ve had an organisation or major business turn around and back you and the potential you’ve shown. That really motivated me and reassured me I was on the right path.”
You can give your backing to Team SportsAid's London Marathon runners and help support the next generation of British athletes by visiting the team's campaign page on Virgin Money Giving. Thank you!