In 2015 I ran the London Marathon for ActionAid - it was a life’s ambition, something I’ve wanted to do since the very first London Marathon 35 years ago. And I wasn’t let down.
The running bug
They couldn’t be more right, it was amazing to join the 38,000 people at the start line. One guy from Singapore asked me to take his picture at the start - it was his first European run, and he was looking very cold! I started off next to one guy who was running his 98th marathon and a six foot geordie drag queen with a big bushy beard! And I ran past London’s landmarks alongside elephants, faires, lighthouses and, of course, rhinos!
I got the running bug, and I try to fit in a run as often as I can. This morning’s run was just 2.4 miles, but to make my training a bit tougher I was carrying a rucksack on my back. It weighs about 8kg, and it contains everything I need to survive 24 hours in the urban jungle: including a spoon, pens, a phone charger, credit cards, two laptops and, of course, a couple of sanitary towels.
Running and sports while on your period
I recently read about Kiran Ghandi who, when she got her period the night before the London Marathon, decided to run it without a tampon in solidarity for women who don’t have access to sanitary care. Periods are a fact of life - and it’s not right that they should be such a taboo. Kiran’s stand was amazing. I am not sure I would’ve done that. But I AM glad I ran for ActionAid.
Especially because ActionAid provide sanitary kits to women and girls who, for whatever reason, are stranded without the items they need. Especially in disasters, like after the Nepal earthquake. Sanitary kits include knickers and soap, and the towels provided are cotton, and can be used discreetly and buried after use, most of it being biodegradable. These supplies are vital for women, especially in cultures where women are not seen as equal.
Why I support ActionAid
I’ve been a supporter of ActionAid for around 15 years, sponsoring two children in that time. I really like the way ActionAid work, helping women and children to help themselves - and working in a non-judgmental way across religion and culture. I love the way the charity works at a global level, getting to the root causes of poverty, and speaking out about topics that are often taboo.
I’ve seen this myself. In 2010, my husband and I joined ActionAid's First Hand experience in Nepal, spending a week in a remote village community getting to see how the work ActionAid does really makes a difference to the communities there.
Our time in Nepal meant that it was very poignant to me when the first massive earthquake hit Nepal just the day before I was running the London Marathon. I ran not knowing if the families we’d met were safe or not. (Although we have since heard that they are ok.) But what I did run with was the conviction that my fundraising would help.
Give the London Marathon a go and join the ActionAid team!
So, maybe you’ve thought about running the London Marathon, or maybe you haven’t, but why not give it a go! You don’t have to make a stand like Kiran, but by running the marathon for ActionAid you can support the valuable work they do helping vulnerable communities around the world make better lives for themselves.