Over 40,000 people took part in the London Marathon this weekend, including 4 courageous runners who went that extra mile by fundraising for The Sussex Beacon to help us continue providing specialist care for people living with HIV. We are so grateful for their support! Show them yours by making a donation to celebrate their enormous achievement on the JustGiving Campaign. Pop back to our website soon for the final fundraising total and to hear about the incredible achievement of our fantastic runners.
One runner who took on this iconic race was Craig Baines. Craig dreamt of running the London Marathon, and finally achieved his dream on Sunday after years of hard work.
Around 3 years ago, I went on a bit of a health kick and lost around 5.5st. This involved me joining a gym at the time, where I found that I really enjoyed running on the treadmill. Last year, I had a couple of friends who were training for the London Marathon and I guess I got myself into the mind-set that if they could do it, so could I. This motivated me to get outside running, enter a few races and build my confidence up. I also wanted to prove to myself that I was capable – I had to find myself a goal so I figured that it might as well be a big one!
Craig was an existing supporter of The Sussex Beacon, and heard from a friend that we had a few precious places in the London Marathon this year to raise vital funds for our services.
Of course when he told me this, I was delighted as not only did it give me the opportunity to fulfil my dream of running the marathon, most importantly it gave me the chance to raise money for a cause I feel passionately about.
With a minimum fundraising pledge of £1500, Craig organised a range of activities to encourage donations from his friends, family and colleagues whilst having fun. His creativity and determination paid off, smashing his fundraising target before the big day.
As a member of the divisional team for a large bank, I managed to encourage branches to get involved in various fundraising activities such as book sales/cake sales/Easter Raffles. Personally, I opened a ‘virtual pub’ on Facebook on a Saturday evening and encouraged my friends to ‘buy me a drink’ i.e. donate the amount they would have paid for a drink if they saw me in an actual pub that evening – everyone had a bit of fun with this and it proved to be successful. Additionally, I sold my miles at £20 each. For everyone who bought a mile, I provided them with a chance to win ££££s (a scratch card) and had their name printed on a T Shirt, which I wore around London on the day before the run. Other than that, I encouraged friends to donate via various social media platforms and, of course, shared the link with all my colleagues at work.
The big day finally arrived, and with 26.2 miles ahead of him, the nerves settled in, but Craig was undeterred!
It was literally the best thing I have ever done an I am so glad that I pushed myself to apply and believed in myself enough to actually do it. Nobody prepared me for the level of nervousness I felt the week leading up to the event – I wanted to do it for myself but also I didn’t want to let anyone down who had believed in me enough to make a donation. Words of encouragement from my friends and family were astonishing and were playing through my head for the entire run. I never thought I would see my dad be so proud of anything I achieved and as I made my way through those final miles, I just kept thinking of that. The crowds were absolutely amazing, thousands of people cheering for you, encouraging you and just wanting you to do well. The immense feeling of pride walking through London with the medal around my neck was worth the 26.2 miles – never before have so many random people walked up to me and congratulated me in the street – I felt like a (very tired and dishevelled) celebrity for the afternoon!
Craig enjoyed his first marathon experience so much, he is already planning the next one!
I already have a deferred ballot entry for the London marathon next year, but I am currently looking for another marathon to run before the end of 2019 and I am constantly checking out various local races in the ongoing pursuit of more bling for my medal wall.
From all the staff, volunteers and services users here at The Sussex Beacon, we say a huge thank you and congratulations to Craig and our other three incredible runners for taking on this mighty challenge to support The Sussex Beacon.
If Craig's story is tempting you to run this iconic race with Team Beacon, our application process for London Marathon places will open soon here.