A tick off the bucket list for Gemma – The London Marathon

A selfie of Gemma with her fluffy dog

I can’t believe I get to run the London Marathon! What an incredible charity Deafblind are, and as they’ve chosen me to represent and fundraise for them, here is a little about myself…

I was never a ‘runner’. Then in 2013, at the age of 25, I was told that my niece could have a life changing operation (not available on NHS) and so I answered one of the easiest ‘Yes’s of my life when asked to join others to run our local half marathon – The Great Eastern Run – to raise the funds she needed.

I was young and naïve thinking I could do this with ease! I found the first 2 months of training eye-opening to say the least, I think I hit a brick wall at just 3 miles and couldn’t for the life of me understand why people did this for fun.  But I got out, dragging myself around purely because I was doing this running so that my niece could have a better chance of walking. And with incredible support, grit and determination, we did it. The half was amazing and what was even better was the generosity of people who helped us raise a huge amount of money for an amazing cause.

I then went on to have 2 daughters and dabbled in running to keep myself sane as apparently, I grew to like it a little bit. In 2017 I ran the Great Eastern again for ‘fun’ but I found myself a bit poorly that week and it was a very slow trot around. Turns out I was competitive with myself, so I signed up for another local half and a few months later I got my Half Marathon PB in just under 2 hours. Absolutely buzzing, better than I could have ever imagined. But that was it, goal achieved. And no way was I ever going to run a marathon, you’d have to be crazy to do that!

Fast-forward to 2023, I had realised how important running was for me. I’ve remained an avid 5km runner, often out with my dogs by my side as an enjoyable break from a busy working-mum day. Whilst I struggled with my mental health for a few years around covid, running got me out and helped me to maintain my physical fitness as well as contribute to my mental wellbeing. I believe that the work charities do is as important as ever in a struggling society. And I decided I wanted to give my support in fundraising to one of those charities.

Deaf Blind UK had an office opposite my work and do a lot of amazing work in the City of Peterborough where I live. I reached out to them and was so (and still am!) incredibly grateful when I was offered a place for the 2024 London Marathon.

It was July 2023 when I got the confirmation of my place. And I can tell you I had big plans for training, a sub 4 hour marathon would have been a dream. And it was the right time, my daughters and stepsons are all at an age now where they are a little more self-sufficient, I could give this focus and really challenge myself. So naturally, I picked up a severe ankle injury and couldn’t run all summer!! Therefore, training commenced in October and it has gone reasonably well. 2024 has been tough already, a close personal loss and a couple of niggling injuries have really meant I have had to battle mentally with the expectations that I have of myself.  I remain incredibly excited and focused on the opportunity ahead of me, but a sub-4 is definitely out of the question!

Fundraising can be a massive worry and isn’t easy, you have to keep reminding people how much charities need support. However, people have been and continue to be incredibly generous. As I have gotten to know the charity more and more it is clear that the work Deafblind UK do is priceless. Many of us can only begin to imagine the challenges and isolation that come with being deafblind and I am inspired by everything I have learnt so far. The charity offers a vast range of physical, emotional and technical support and more, and none of it is possible without the donations and support the charity receives.

So Thank You again for having me on this journey, I hope I can do you all proud and raise lots!

To support Gemma by donating click here

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