There are now just two days until Oxfordshire runners join thousands of others pounding the streets of the capital in the 2018 London Marathon, many raising vital funds for local charities.
Helen and Douglas House, Oxfam, Sobell House Hospice, Team PACT and Homeless Oxfordshire are among the charities that will benefit from the outstanding effort by the marathoners.
More than 75 per cent of the 40,000 runners will be raising money for charity at the world’s largest one-day fundraising event on Sunday as they attempt to complete the 26.2 mile course.
The long-distance running event, sponsored by Virgin Money, first took place in 1981 and was founded by former Olympic champion Chris Brasher and athlete John Disley. Since its inception runners have raised a combined total of more than £890million over the past 37 years.
Owen Hughes spoke to just a few of those taking part as they make their final preparations
Jessica Lever: VICTA
A marathon runner from Culham has raised thousands for a charity that supports blind and partially sighted people.
Jessica Lever, 29, is raising funds at the London Marathon for charity VICTA which supported her friend Mel after she lost her sight at 23 years old due to a rare spinal tumour.
The friends, pictured, met when they were pupils at John Mason School in Abingdon.
Jessica said: “Since January I’ve gone into full marathon mode.
“But I’ve also only just gotten over a chest and ear infection after I competed in the Hampton Court half marathon in -1 degrees about five weeks ago.
Jessica, who works for a production company in London, has already raised more than £2,800 for VICTA after hosting two comedy nights and through “the sheer generosity of people who I’ve never spoken to”.
“Thinking about it now is nearly making me cry,” she said.
“Mel really is a very special person and so brave to have come through all this so it’s a pleasure to be running for a charity that has helped her out.”
Donations can be made online at: https://bit.ly/2qDhllL
Nicola Davis: Helen & Douglas House
A runner is hoping to raise vital funds for the hospice that cared for her friend’s daughter who died aged just four days old.
Nicola Davis, 38, will raise money for Helen & Douglas House in memory of her friend’s daughter Jasmine who died in her parents Holly and Jason Coe’s arms at Helen House in Oxford.
Nicola said: “I have taken on this challenge because of the bravery of my friends Holly and Jason through the most awful time in their life.
“I had the privilege to visit Helen & Douglas House recently and see first-hand the incredible facilities and care available to children and families when they need it most.
“I’m not a natural runner and this is my biggest challenge to date and in all honesty, whilst I’m looking forward hugely to the day, I will be glad when I cross the finish line.”
Alison Hooker from Helen & Douglas House said the charity relies on “the amazing support of people like Nicola” to provide support to families.
Nicola has raised more than £3,800.
Donations can be made online at: https://bit.ly/2vlIxLp
Georgia Fogden-King: Sobell House
A Didcot runner has been inspired to race in her first London Marathon to support a hospice that cared for her grandad.
Georgia Fogden-King, 25, originally from Kennington, is hoping to raise more than £2,000 for Sobell House Hospice where her grandad was cared for in October 2013, five days after he was diagnosed with cancer.
Georgia said: “When somebody says that your grandad is going into hospice, it just sounds absolutely awful, but the first time I went to Sobell House, it was unbelievable.
“The staff are so good and considering it’s palliative life care, it’s a really nice environment.
Georgia’s grandad – known affectionately as ‘Da’ – was able to enjoy watching football in the common room, spending time in the garden room and even drinking a glass of port in the evening.
She added: “Sobell is run mainly from sponsors and volunteers, so every year I try to do something to raise money for them.
“In 2015 I did a mud run and in both 2016 and 2017 I ran the Oxford half marathon [pictured].
“It wasn’t until the end of October that Kevin from Sobell phoned and asked if I would like to run the London Marathon and I thought ‘oh my God, what have I done”?
“It all sounds like such a good idea until you get the call to say you can do it.”
Despite nerves creeping in after the reoccurrence of a hip injury sustained while running earlier this year, Georgia said she is still quite excited.
“It’s something I just never thought I’d be able to do, but just from training I’ve shown myself I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was,” she said.
“Crossing that finish line and knowing how much I’ve raised for Sobell will be really emotional and I’ll probably need a gin.”
Kevin Game, Sobell House fundraiser, said: “We need to raise £1.6million every year to help fund the running costs of the hospice.
“Community fundraising is vital to us, so we’re grateful to everyone running for the hospice this Sunday.”
Georgia has raised more than £1,650 towards her personal £2,000 goal.
Donations can be made online at: https://bit.ly/2H37lxc
Catherine Slatter: Oxfam
Controversy surrounding international aid charity Oxfam has made one Oxford-based runner “more determined” to support the organisation.
Thousands of people cancelled donations to Oxfam, based in Cowley, after claims of sexual misconduct from some of its employees in Haiti.
Oxford resident Catherine Slatter, 51, originally from Melbourne, Australia, has been spurred on to support Oxfam at this year’s London Marathon in spite of the scandal.
Catherine said: “Like everyone else, when the news broke it was very upsetting and disappointing.
“But the bottom line is, I don’t want the actions of a few despicable individuals to destroy the years of hard work that people put in.
“Over 99 per cent of the people in that organisation are doing amazing work to help people in desperate need.
“It makes me more determined to support them because I don’t want these few idiots to spoil that.”
Catherine and her family moved to the other side of the world from Australia a decade ago before settling in Oxford in 2011.
Catherine began running as a hobby at the age of 47 and last year competed in her first London Marathon, also raising money for Oxfam.
She said: “Initially we thought we would move here for two to four years and we loved it so much that in the first year we sold our house and decided we wanted to stay.
“We really love it, especially for running as the climate over here suits me much better because I couldn’t really run in Australia as it was too hot.”
Catherine hopes to go one better than her last attempt in the marathon after she fell over at the 15 mile mark.
“Last year I loved the experience so much because the crowds and how awesome the people of London are just blows you away.
“It was just incredible, but I fell over at the 15 mile mark, so my aim this year is to not fall over.”
Catherine has already raised the £2,000 that was pledged to get the Marathon place.
Nearly 100 runners will take on the Marathon to support Oxfam.
To donate to Oxfam go to https://bit.ly/2GWoFUm
Dr Emily Harrop: Helen & Douglas House
A consultant at Oxfordshire charity Helen & Douglas House is hoping to raise £25,000 for the children’s hospice after a silent charity bid of £2,500 secured her marathon place.
Dr Emily Harrop, 45, who lives in Newbury, will take part in her first Virgin London Marathon on April 22 to support Helen & Douglas House.
A bid of £2,500 in the charity’s silent auction at a charity dinner at Blenheim Palace last year was enough to secure Emily’s place in the fundraising run.
Emily, a consultant in paediatric palliative care, has worked at the children’s hospice for the last eight years.
She said: “I find myself overwhelmed on a daily basis, by the courage and determination shown by the children and their families who are cared for by Helen & Douglas House, in overcoming physical and emotional challenges.
“Taking part in this marathon gives me a chance to undertake a small physical challenge of my own, for a great cause, which will also increase the profile of a great local charity.”
As part of her training Emily regularly takes part in runs near her home and has run more than 100 miles so far since December.
She was due to take part in the Reading Half Marathon on March 18, which was eventually snowed off.
Undeterred, Emily still ran her half marathon in the snow as training and has run over a hundred miles since December.
Emily said: “I am really excited to be running the 2018 Virgin London Marathon.
“This is a huge challenge for me, as the furthest official race that I have ever run to date is 15 miles.
“I have, as always, drawn inspiration from the children and young people that we look after at Helen & Douglas House as I have struggled my way through my training over the last 11 months.
“March was the hardest month of training because of the freezing temperatures and the snow.”
She added that the children occasionally help her train by riding their bicycles alongside Emily as she runs.
Emily has raised nearly £5,000 towards her target.
Donations can be made online at: https://bit.ly/2qwnJfp
Carl Bolton: PACT
A West Oxfordshire runner is part of a team of six limbering up to run the London Marathon on behalf of adoption charity Parents and Children Together (PACT).
Carl Bolton, from Witney, is just under halfway to reaching his target of £1,500 for PACT, which supports hundreds of families every year through adoption and other community projects.
Carl said he chose to run in aid of PACT due to “all the great work the charity does in finding an amazing forever home for children who haven’t had the greatest of starts to life”.
He added: “If I can help just one child find their perfect home from the money I raise then words couldn’t describe how much of an honour that would be.
“I’m really looking forward to the excitement and adrenaline of running in front of so many people and doing my family and friends proud.”
PACT chief executive Jan Fishwick said: “We are so grateful to all six runners who have been working really hard, not only to train for the race, but also to raise funds for our work.”
To donate visit: https://bit.ly/2qG7lIe
Katie Truslove: Homeless Oxfordshire
An Oxfordshire woman has been inspired to run the London Marathon to help tackle the “major problem” of homelessness in the city.
Katie Truslove is aiming to raise £150 for Homeless Oxfordshire after becoming aware of the growing number of homeless people in Oxford in recent months.
She said: “Homelessness is a major problem here in Oxford and the harsh winter we have just had made me particularly aware of the issue. This is the biggest sporting challenge I have ever undertaken and I would appreciate support for Homeless Oxfordshire.”
Homeless Oxfordshire provides short-term accommodation for homeless people and supports them in finding independent accommodation and getting back into employment.
Mackenzie Aspell from the charity said: “What Katie and others like her are doing is incredible. Challenges like the London Marathon are epic so we were beyond grateful when we found out somebody chose to run it for us.”
Fundraisers can apply for free Bike Oxford and Oxford Half Marathon places to support the charity by emailing: email@example.com
To donate to Katie’s JustGiving page, visit: https://bit.ly/2vkV3ea