Training for London Marathon with Maggie's Centres

by Ali Wyllie
Run the Sights

Andy & Mark enjoying Calton Hill, Edinburgh during their Edinburgh Nutshell running tour

Andy & Mark enjoying Calton Hill, Edinburgh during their Edinburgh Nutshell running tour

Have you heard of the Maggie’s Centres?  Do you know what they do?   
 
In a nutshell, and in their own words, Maggie’s offers free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their families and friends. Help is offered freely to anyone with any type of cancer.

Mark & Andy on the Castle Esplanade, Edinburgh Castle

Mark & Andy on the Castle Esplanade, Edinburgh Castle

What’s unique about Maggie’s is that they support anyone affected by any type of cancer, not just the person who has cancer, 43% of their visitors last year were carers who cared for a loved one with cancer, which can often be overlooked. The courses and support offered are in custom built buildings on NHS grounds but a complete contrast to the clinical hospital environment. Their support is instant and opened ended.  They have people who have been attending for years, even long after their cancer is gone, and importantly they support people who have sadly lost loved ones. It’s fair to say that it is quite simply a remarkable place, all of the Centres are truly special places. 

Check out their colour coordinated laces!

Check out their colour coordinated laces!

I was honoured to be joined on our 4 mile Edinburgh Nutshell Running Tour, by Mark and Andy, who work in the Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh.  During this beautiful running tour, which takes in the very best that Edinburgh has to offer, I learnt all about their plans for the upcoming London Marathon.  
 
Both Andy and Mark, along with their colleague Issy, have been busy training for London Marathon.  They will run the gruelling 26.2 miles to raise funds for their fantastic charity.  Understandably, they simply cannot wait to embrace the atmosphere of London Marathon.   

Enjoying the history in White Horse Close

Enjoying the history in White Horse Close

Completing a marathon itself is the tip of the iceberg, the real challenge and hard work is in the months of preparation and training to get the body into a suitable condition,  to be capable of completing such a long distance.   

This requires commitment, sacrifices and determination.  Andy, Mark and Issy have all these traits!

None of them are strangers to a running challenge, least of all Mark.  During our running tour, I was naive enough to ask him if he had done a marathon before, he very modestly said he had done “one or two” but rather embarrassingly on my part for asking such a question, this actually equates to:  12 official marathons and 14 Ultra marathons ranging from 50k to 160k races and back in 2010 he ran from Amsterdam to Barcelona which was 50 marathons over 56 days!  Phew, I’m tired just writing that.  WHAT A LEGEND!  

With all those running accomplishments under his belt, it is even more impressive to learn that Mark, who has worked for Maggie’s for 7 years, only started running in 2008, with the key motivator being to stop smoking.   

Teetering precariously outside Holyrood Abbey

Teetering precariously outside Holyrood Abbey

Despite Mark’s colourful running history, he narrowly missed the good for age for London Marathon by 4 minutes (gutting) and then tried relentlessly with the ballot for 8 years – with no joy.  So running London Marathon this year, is a pretty big deal for Mark.   
 
I asked Mark what he was looking forward to the most about London Marathon.  As a passionate runner I was really spurred on that he included “the training” in his list of answers.  Many people see training as a chore, the road to the end goal.  But training is a joy and anyone who chooses to enter such an epic race should embrace their training and enjoy the miles, taking the rough with the smooth.  I also love that he is looking forward to pints in Soho afterwards!  NICE! 

Running with the Scottish poet, Robert Fergusson

Running with the Scottish poet, Robert Fergusson

We discussed any worries they may have about the London Marathon, and it seems it was unanimous that since training has gone well, worries are buried deep, for the meantime.  As all endurance runners know, a big part of training for a marathon is training the mind and adopting the right mind-set.  This can allow us to overcome many challenges both running and non-running related.  

So it seems training has gone well for them all, and with all the incredible running route options we have here in Edinburgh, including the Pentland Hills and Arthur’s Seat, it’s easy to understand the enjoyment of their training.   

Though provoking graffiti/mosaic art during our running tour

Though provoking graffiti/mosaic art during our running tour

But what does it actually mean, to run London Marathon, specifically to raise funds for Maggie’s?  Mark’s answer was so eloquent and profound, we could not have put it better ourselves.  

It means so much to me to run for Maggie’s because I’m sure a lot of our visitors don’t have the option to exercise or run, I’m the lucky one who is still healthy and able to do this to raise funds for our visitors. It’s a massive privilege.” 

This is so true, being able to run is a massive privilege.  My own go to mantra during a tough race illustrates my gratitude to be able to run: “I run because I can, I run because I am healthy, able and free” 

Morning views from Calton Hill

Morning views from Calton Hill

The trio have set a fundraising target of £10,000. They have just over £3,000 to go until they reach this target.  Just one, tiny, final push, is all they need, can you help? This money will pay for 700 visits to the Edinburgh Maggie’s Centre, supporting local people who want support when they need it most.  

It’s now the final countdown to London Marathon, we wish all those running to raise funds for Maggie’s Centre’s a successful race and an enjoyable taper week.  

Before you stop reading – we are DELIGHTED to support Maggie’s as one of our chosen charities here in Edinburgh.  The month of May is ‘Maggie’s May’, this means £2 from all running tour bookings, with us at Run the Sights will be donated to Maggie’s.  This applies to all our tours, including our famous Prosecco Running TourCraft Beer Running Tour and Pentland Taster Running Tour as well. 
 
Oh – and we have a special set of running tours on over the Edinburgh Marathon Festival weekend.  Check them out here and come and experience Edinburgh on the run whilst supporting Maggie’s at the same time.   

Thank you to Mark and Andy for joining us on our Edinburgh Nutshell Running Tour and all the best for the London Marathon!

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