The 40th London Marathon goes virtual across Sussex
Runners raise money for Rockinghorse in this year’s special version of the popular marathon
Many events scheduled to take place during 2020 have been postponed or cancelled, including the majority of marathon events. This has meant that valuable fundraising opportunities have been lost for small charities, like Rockinghorse Children’s Charity.
However, the iconic Virgin Money London Marathon have tried hard to make sure that the £60m plus raised for charities throughout the country isn’t entirely lost. Along with organising an elite race around the capital for the 40th anniversary of the event, they have also been encouraging charity runners to complete their own race around local routes to help their chosen causes.
The organisers offered a number virtual of places asking runners to complete their own marathon distance by midnight on 4 October. In exchange, everyone who finished the 26.2-mile course would receive an official time along with a coveted London Marathon finisher medal and a branded finisher t-shirt.
Support throughout the county
Throughout Sussex there are 12 runners fundraising for Rockinghorse around the county. Andy Fountain, a long-standing supporter of the charity, has chosen a route around his home in Cowfold. Andy’s son Eddie was born with Tracheoesophageal Fistula which meant that he had to undergo several hours of surgery at only a few hours old. Eddie remained under the care of the hospital right up to his eighteenth birthday.
Explaining his reasons for continuing his support of the charity, Andy commented: “Without the skill and dedication of the teams at the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital and Rockinghorse my son would not be the young man he is today.
Whenever I can take on challenges to raise money for Rockinghorse I do, and this year especially has put a lot of pressure on charities, so I am eager to raise money and awareness.”
Another runner, Darren Evans from Seaford, took on his first ever marathon distance around Brighton, visiting the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital on the way. Darren’s choice of charity was also based on his family’s personal experience.
Darren’s daughter Shannon was born in 1992 but due to complications at birth, she was treated in the Trevor Mann Baby Unit. Despite being told that she may have suffered brain damage after not breathing for 6 minutes, Shannon was prescribed a specialist drug for 6 months to slow her brain activity down and went on to make a full recovery. Shannon is now 28 and worked in finance before going travelling.
The support that Shannon received at the hospital and from Rockinghorse has always had a special place in Darren’s heart: “We were recently reflecting at Shannon’s birthday celebrations about our experiences and it has a massive emotional attachment for us. What Rockinghorse does for the Alex and the TMBU is wonderful and I am so happy to be able to support their work.”
Following his run, Darren was tired but really proud of his achievement: “It was a great first marathon experience and even more special to be able to raise some money for this great charity. It was challenging at times with the inclement weather, but I was blown away (literally) by the support from clapping walkers, tooting drivers and respectful nods and waves from other runners.”
An extraordinary year
Lucy Pond, Challenge Events Manager at Rockinghorse, has been amazed at the support despite the change of plans for this year’s race; “This year has had an extraordinary impact on us, along with many other small charities. In March we never would have expected that the impact of the global pandemic would have stretched right through to the end of the year and have such a negative effect on our fundraising.
But our fundraisers have really stepped up, realised how important their continued support is to us and pulled out all the stops. By raising just under £3,000 through their marathon efforts, these twelve runners have enabled us to continue supporting sick babies and children throughout the county. And we only hope, despite all the challenges ahead, that we will continue our work through the years to come.”
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