Many of us feel that we need to get a bit more exercise, but this might be taking it a bit far – literally. At 26.2 miles long, the London Marathon is a test of endurance, stamina and sheer determination that has become the stuff of legend. It’s arguably one of the UK’s most iconic sporting events.

It’s also a superb opportunity for charities to raise both awareness and funds – provided they can find someone to run in their name, who is prepared to tackle not just the Marathon itself, but also the months of training needed beforehand.

That’s where James comes in. A set designer and scenic artist for stage and film, James volunteered to tackle the 2018 London Marathon on behalf of NewLink Wales when we put the shout out last year. And he absolutely delivered, throwing himself not just into the required physical training, but also into organising a quiz to help raise money, and getting the word out there about the work we do.

Blistering Heat

On Sunday 22nd April, James was at the starting line, with our logo pinned to his running vest. It was forecast to be the hottest London Marathon on record, with health experts issuing warnings to runners: forget your Personal Best.

The weather wasn’t the only think to contend with. ‘Around the Cutty Sark, which is about a quarter of the way round, I noticed I was starting to get a blister,’ James recalls. ‘At the half-way point I finally gave into the pain and took my shoe and sock off to check. The blister on my big toe was about the size of a golf ball!

‘Experienced runners say to never try anything new on race day, and ironically I’d tried anti blister socks for the first time!

‘At this point, while still running the hottest London Marathon ever, I gave up on any Personal Best or goal other than finishing. I’m so proud that I did. I think a marathon is just as much a mental challenge as a physical one.’

‘I did it’

James crossed the finish line, having run the entire marathon in just over five and a half hours – that’s an average speed of 4.7 miles, or 1 mile approximately every 13 minutes – and beating 9,622 other runners to the tape. For many of us, that’ll make our legs hurt just thinking about it!

And here’s the big stat: £660 raised so far, money which will help us keep going as we continue helping people get their lives back on track.

‘If I struggle with anything in the future,’ says James, ‘I’ll think back to that half-way point, remember how demoralised I felt, and think: I got my head down put one foot in front of the other, and I did it.’

In many ways, it’s the perfect metaphor for what we’re always working to help people achieve: the knowledge that obstacles can be overcome.

A huge thank you to James from all of us here at NewLink Wales


There’s still time to donate - uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JamesNewLink

For info on James’ set design and scenic art work, visit scenicgardiner.com