On Sunday 2 October, 42,000 participants took to the streets of London to tackle the challenge of running 26.2 miles. Among them was Serena Bailey, our Programme Funding Officer, who ran to raise funds for Feed the Minds’ work to help marginalised communities around the world to gain access to life-changing opportunities for education.
You can read about why Serena chose to run the London Marathon here.
How did you feel in the build-up?
I was pretty excited in the weeks leading up to the marathon. I knew it would be hard work, especially as I fought off the dregs of a cold, but I was buoyed up by a successful training cycle, and really motivated by the support of my amazing friends and family.
On Sunday morning I travelled down to London with my mum and partner and followed the crowds to Greenwich. After a few good-luck hugs, I waved goodbye and found my way to the start. My wave was called up, and before I knew it, we were crossing the start line!
We were off! Although I was moving a bit slower than usual, I felt great for the first ~20 miles. I loved soaking up the atmosphere; the crowds of fellow runners, the unexpected sunshine, and the amazing supporters who poured their hearts into cheering us on.
Mile 20 and beyond
By mile 20 or so, things were starting to get sore. I persevered onwards, knowing that my family members were waiting at mile 21. Before long, I had passed them, and just 5 miles remained.
There’s no sugar-coating it – those 5 miles hurt. By then, every muscle ached, and my teeth were chattering non-stop. I could run through the pain, but a wooziness crept in that I knew not to ignore. I wasn’t trying to break any records, so I accepted a few walking breaks, and focused on finishing in one piece.
Finally, I caught sight of the ‘400m to go!’ sign, and soon thereafter, the finish line! I had no reserves left for a final sprint but carried on my shuffling jog until I crossed the line; it was done!
I stumbled through the crowds to the meet-and-greet area where my family were waiting. We collapsed onto the grass, and I set upon my sandwiches as if they were a lifesaving elixir.
Once fed and watered, we made to leave. We knew it was a long journey home, so why wait? We boarded the tube, but as the train grew busier and hotter, I knew something was wrong. I turned to my partner to say ‘I can’t see…’
… and the next thing I knew, I was waking up on a station platform, surrounded by a crowd of people shouting. Sure enough, I’d passed out cold, giving my family quite the scare! We set up camp on the platform until I’d fully regained equilibrium, then completed the rest of our journey home without further incident.
The marathon was a truly unique experience. The support from friends, family and total strangers was incredible. Whether it was donations, words of encouragement, sharing the fundraising page or supplying me with snacks, their support was invaluable. I hadn’t anticipated in advance the feeling of connection this experience would bring, and how special it would feel to come together with so many others to fundraise for this cause.
It also provided a lot of time for reflection on the partners and communities that we work to support. Every run was an opportunity to recall the boundless effort and dedication that our partners show, and the privilege we feel to help them in achieving their positive impact.
In the end, we raised an incredible £2,372, which is equivalent to the cost of delivering practical textiles training to 90 women in Madagascar. Such training can unlock new livelihoods and new opportunities, leading to exponential benefits for individuals, families and communities. I am so grateful to every supporter who helped us raise this phenomenal amount.
To help us reach even more marginalised women, you can donate here.
What suggestions do you have for anyone wanting to join the marathon in the future?
I would encourage anyone to follow their heart and be brave about taking on a challenge that inspires them, whether that is running, skydiving, or something else entirely. If you’re thinking of a marathon, my biggest tips are; to listen to your body, prioritise your long-term health, don’t neglect your core/strength training, and most importantly, enjoy it! Remember that there is good to be found in every run, and focus on that, even on the runs that don’t go to plan.