Blood, sweat, tears, celebrities and even a surprise proposal may sound like a description for the latest summer blockbuster but I'm talking about this year's Virgin Money London Marathon, a day which, for even the toughest, inspires a whole range of emotions, worthy of any big screen.
In the charity world, the London Marathon is without a doubt one of the highlights of the year. Working in the fundraising team, I can't imagine ever not attending one of our cheering points along the 26.2 mile course and making a lot of noise for all the amazing people who don one of our vests and run for Prostate Cancer UK. And what a spectacle this year was. The sun shone down on the city and the crowds were in full swing cheering on the 37,000 entrants. The professional athletes, speedy club runners , and odd celebrity (we even had our own in Michael Owen) were able to rub shoulders with members of public who were taking on probably one of the toughest challenges of their lifetime, and one that will never be forgotten, especially during the immediate days after with achy limbs and painful blisters. And nothing could prepare us for our super runner Brad Mclaren surprise. He was running for us as his dad had had prostate cancer. At mile 13, rather than stopping for some water he promptly dropped down on one knee in front of his girlfriend and popped the question! After getting a positive answer he then sped off into the distance with the happy knowledge he would have a fiancée waiting for him at the end. The London Marathon for us here at Prostate Cancer UK is an all consuming experience and one that will probably raise over £500,000 by the time everything's in. It’s impossible for us not to be involved emotionally because from the moment we get to know our runners and their stories, relationships are built. We give support during their training, try and help them reach their fundraising totals and more often than not talk through their worries about their unbelievable task ahead. Once the race is finished we are eager to hear how they did, that they aren’t in too much pain and that they achieved what they wanted. It's a physical feat - a gruelling journey that cuts through many different areas of London, and past famous landmarks such as Tower Bridge and Big Ben. 26.2 miles is an awfully long way to run/jog/walk/hobble but it is also one that requires a strong mind. Emotions understandably can run wild for those taking part in memory of a loved one, for those that have been successfully treated or those who know someone with the disease. I challenge anyone to watch from the side-lines and keep a dry eye. For me, sunglasses are a must whatever the weather. In fact, emotions were even higher for us this year as three Prostate Cancer UK employees participated in the race. Mark Bishop our Director of Fundraising completed the race in 4:27, Gemma our Education Manager achieved her first marathon in 4:14 (Well done Gemma!) and Rhodri from our Cardiff Office crossed the finish line in 4:32. In all, we had over 300 runners this year. Thanks to everyone who ran for us. You are amazing. 2014 will be a tough act to follow but if you are interested in running for us in 2015 and taking on a challenge that you will never forget you can find more information here.