At ActionAid, we’re lucky enough to work with some of the most inspiring and incredible women. When people fundraise for us, the money they raise means that we can work alongside even more women, to change their lives for good. Three of our runners in last year’s Royal Parks Half Marathon, Ellie, Lisa and Claire, explain why they loved running for ActionAid – and how knowing the difference their sponsorship would make for women across the world kept them going, even at the toughest moments!
How much of a runner are you?
Claire: I like to think of myself as a fair-weather runner. I can do nothing for months and then suddenly I’ll commit to something like Royal Parks Half Marathon and then I up my game. But my body is certainly not built for running which shows how achievable the distance is!
Tell us about that moment you decided: "Right, I’m going to do this!"
Lisa: I wanted to sign up for some type of physical challenge in 2015. I'd heard lots of great things about the race since it takes place in central London and you pass so many important monuments and beautiful parks. I also had friends who were running the race too – it gives you motivation when others are involved. So when I heard ActionAid had places, I thought it sounded perfect!
How did you get ready for the race?
Ellie: A massive part of distance running is psychological, so I sort of tricked my mind into running longer distances without it feeling like part of a strict training regime - for example, I started running home from work a couple of times a week. Some people work better with a more structured approach, so it’s just a matter of finding out what works best for you and going with it!
What was the best bit about being part of the ActionAid team?
Claire: The support team were incredible. Any questions I had they were all over it and were so supportive in the times when I had my doubts I could do it. And the advice I got leading up the race answered questions I didn’t even realise I should have asked.
Lisa: Turning the corner mid-way through the race – ActionAid was there all in red cheering loudly, it gives you a boost that you need. Also, ActionAid sent reminders, helpful tips pre-race, and had a wonderful section of the post-race tent to welcome you after you finished.
What were your biggest challenges?
Lisa: For me, it was really just about finding the time and staying motivated – I would try and think about how I always feel post-run which is always a feeling of accomplishment.
What does being a strong woman mean to you?
Ellie: It means defining your own strength and capabilities, instead of adhering to a set of standards society has decided women must follow.
Why did you want to run for ActionAid?
Lisa: When I read about young girls in Kenya who are resisting their parents' demands to marry so they can get an education, young girls who have to take unsafe paths in order to reach school, and young girls who stand up to society's view of them so they can achieve their ambitions – I think, there is something I must do to support these young girls' fearless actions and that is why I run for ActionAid.
What would you say to others thinking of joining ActionAid for Royal Parks 2016?
Claire: Do it. Do it. Do it! The work needed to run the race and fundraise for it feels like absolutely nothing compared to the feeling of finishing the race and the awesome-ness of the day itself. One of the best things I did last year. Seriously…. do it!
Photo credits: Jo Rowley/ActionAid