On Sunday 13th April around thirty thousand people from all over the country and the world, dressed in a rainbow of colours and outfits will descend on to the streets of London for the annual Marathon held in support of array of different charities. Since its inception in 1981, it has become the world’s largest fundraising event with millions raised for good causes by competitors ranging from seasoned athletes to first time distance runners.
Ahead of Sunday we spoke to runners raising money for charities in our diocese about who they are running for and how they’ve prepared to take on the 26.2 mile course around some of the capital’s landmarks.
Alison Gelder, Chief Executive of Housing Justice:
I’m running for Housing Justice because I’m passionate about the work we do. With only 11 staff we’re active right across England and Wales, and especially in London, to tackle homelessness and poor housing. The money I raise will be used to set up Night Shelters to care for street homeless people in church buildings and to support recruit, train and support volunteers to mentor and befriend people who have just been housed. It will also support our role in raising awareness in churches about the problem of homelessness and the housing crisis– and lobbying and campaigning to change government policy so fewer people end up on the street.
I’ve never run before – I started in September – and the training has been hard, though not quite as bad as I expected. It’s great to feel fit even if I have got grazed knees and hands from falling over. Also I’m lucky to live in central London so my regular routes take me along the river and though Hyde Park – really beautiful early in the morning. I’m running with my daughter who has been full of advice about clothing and nutrition on the go and other things I didn’t know about. I really did not expect to be running my first (and probably last) marathon at 57 but now I’ve got this far I’m quite excited as well as a bit nervous.
James Elliott is running for CAFOD:
I have previously completed both New York and Paris marathons for charity but never run in my home city, so I am very excited to experience the great home crowd support. I have been training since last autumn and it hasn’t helped this year having a wet winter! My target is to raise over £3,000 for CAFOD, my time won’t be near Mo Farah’s but I hope to beat my personal best of 4 hours 45 mins! Thank you for your support. have always been keen on supporting charitable causes in the developing world ever since I studied Human Geography at University. In 2012 I began my journey into the Catholic faith by completing the RCIA sessions in my parish church in Enfield and was baptised last year at Easter. At one RCIA session, a representative from CAFOD visited us and introduced me to the aims and mission of this great charity. I was particularly interested as one of the things they focus on is work with vulnerable communities before, during and after disasters and emergencies in the developing world.
Milton Costa, a Jesuit scholastic from India, is running for the Jesuit Refugee Service:
I enjoy running because it gives me mental and physical relaxation. It keeps me fit mentally and physically. Since I came to London I have been part of JRS through which I have visited the detention centre where I have seen the pain and suffering of the detainees. Every person has the right to live with dignity and respect. But the detainees often do not get enough of that justice. I have also been with homeless asylum seekers, mainly those who come to JRS for help. I was moved by that. So, I would like to help them in the small way I can.
Refugees and detainees are subject to ill-treatment even in a first world country like the UK where others enjoy the minimum basic rights, but asylum seekers are deprived of that. In this peculiar weather (mostly cold and rain!) everybody needs a home as shelter. But the government does not pay enough heed to such basic needs. Hence, JRS can play the role of being like a guardian. I would like people to be generous hearted in giving. They can also spread this effort by word of mouth, encouraging others to donate for this good cause.