Running the London Marathon 2011 for Positive Steps and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research

Having applied to run the London Marathon 5 times, the year I give birth to my beautiful son happened to be the year I was successful in getting a place through the public ballot which is essentially a lottery, in which roughly 1 in 4 people (40,000 out of 120,000 applications) are successful.

I had applied to enter the London Marathon back in April 2010, a month before I was due to give birth, My husband Steve ran the London Marathon 2010 so two weeks before I was due I was there cheering him on! I promised Jane that if I was successful in entering the marathon I would run to raise money for Positive Steps.

Louis was born on May 17th, a week overdue! My sister Emily was diagnosed with MDS, a rare blood disorder in January 2009 when she was 28. Our family were devastated as the condition leads to Leukaemia. We hoped that as Emily had been diagnosed early, by chance having been in hospital for Appendicitis, this would mean treatment could be more effective than if Emily had developed Leukaemia before being diagnosed. My brother and I were tested to find out if we were potential bone marrow matches as a bone marrow transplant is the only cure for the condition, but unfortunately neither of us were. However, in August 2009 we learned that several potential matches had been found on the register, one very good match, so we all focused on this positive news.

Emily was so excited about the arrival of little Louis. As a nursery nurse she adored babies and young children. Emily started her chemotherapy treatment in preparation for a bone marrow transplant, when Louis was just 6 weeks old. After a week of so, Emily’s immune system was virtually eliminated and she started her stay in Poole hospital, in an isolated ward to prevent her picking up infections. Unfortunately, Emily showed signs of infection from the start of her chemotherapy and therefore was put on antibiotics on top of the other drugs that she was taking. Over the month of July, she continued to show signs of infection which we assumed would be eventually got rid of by the drugs she was being given. Very suddenly and tragically, the infection got into Emily’s blood stream and on August 4th when Louis was 10 weeks old, Emily died of Septicemia.

I still can’t believe that Emily is gone, the shock when it happened was immense. As the October date grew nearer when I would find out if I had been successful in entering the marathon I vowed to myself that if I was given a place, I would take it up in 2011 rather than deferring it for a year due to having a tiny baby, and I would raise money not only for Positive Steps but for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research as well. I started running again towards the end of August; I needed to run to give me space and time to grieve and also I wanted to start in case I succeeded in getting place in the marathon.

Training with Louis was not always been easy – for him it was a chance to sleep… for me hard work pushing him down the prom, receiving lots of funny looks from passers-by and the occasional show of support from lovely elderly gentlemen such as “That’s the way to do it, love!” and “race you to the pier?!” Luckily the weather was reasonably kind, the odd icy gale force wind and icy pavements, but not too much rain…

When the going got tough I remembered my sister Emily and her courage and strength in facing such horrendous treatment and I reminded myself that I am alive, well and able to run which makes me extremely lucky.

I am pleased to say that I managed to complete the 26.2 miles in hot conditions on Sunday 17th April. I can honestly say that I loved every second and ran most of the course with a smile on my face! The last mile seemed to be much, much longer than the previous miles, but I made it in 4 hours 24 minutes! The atmosphere was incredible, the crowd really did make a huge difference and I was very lucky to be able to see some friendly faces in the crowds at a number of spots including friends, my Dad and brother and Louis who was very happy waving his flag.

I feel proud to have achieved my goal but have even more pride in the amount of support I have received from friends, family and colleagues, and the incredible amount of money raised by them all in memory of Emily. As much as the sponsorship has given me such a boost in training and in completing the marathon, I have been very touched because the money raised is in recognition of the loss of our Emily.

I set up a Virgin Money Giving page for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research which many colleagues and friends used to donate on. I also managed to raise £250 for Positive Steps which I hope will help Malawian people in need of medical assistance.

Clare completes the 2011 London Marathon