1 of the 23 people who ran the London Marathon in aid of Cornwall Hospice Care in 2017 was Jane Appleton. Here is her story...

#TeamCHC – My London Marathon Experience

The London Marathon has been on my bucket list for several years, I’ve been running since 2011 and always thought ‘one day’! So last April, myself and my running buddies Leanne and Nicki applied through the public ballot and also for one of Cornwall Hospice Care’s gold Bond Places.  

October arrived, and the three of us were on tenterhooks.  The public ballot was announced and Nicki had been successful! Leanne and I were religiously checking our email and stalking the postman but we were unsuccessful with the public ballot.  We waited for the Gold Bond panel to meet to decide our fate, and one grey October morning, I was called in to be told that Leanne and I would be offered Gold Bond places – we were in! Wow, what a feeling!!!

Then the fun began! We learnt that a friend from our running club, Gareth, was also part of #TeamCHC, another person to train with.  We talked training tactics and met to discuss our fundraising strategy – cake sales mainly and a big fundraising evening at the Kingswood in February which smashed our fundraising team aim of £5000 in one go!  Thanks to the generosity of our family and friends our team total is at about £11,000 and there is still money coming in.

The training began in January – we began to build up our miles.  All of us had run a half marathon before so had a good basis.  I remember the first time I ran 16 miles, it was my longest run to date and felt like an amazing achievement.  The next week I had to do 18… it hurt!! We trained to a distance of 22 miles, I won’t lie – it wasn’t easy, but I it definitely helped training as a team.  Once we got to 22 miles, with 4 weeks to go we started to taper our distances – the week before I did 1 three mile run followed by 5 on the Saturday – that was so nice! I got home with daylight to spare!

Eventually Marathon weekend arrived – we’d put in the distance, felt the niggles and loaded with carbs.  We now had the small matter of getting ourselves to London and running that little old distance of 26.2 miles!  We got on the train on the Saturday to discover it was full of fellow marathoners who we’ve never met but we’re swapping stories and tips and taking selfies!! On arrival in Paddington, myself, Leanne, Nicki and her sister Suzi headed to the Marathon Expo and left the husbands to find the hotel, my dad, all our other supporter friends and (unbeknown to us runners) a pub and an extortionate amount of Sambuca!  The Expo was amazing – registration, number collection, massage, advice, sports clothes and gels for sale and freebies galore – it’s just a part of the marathon experience!

We had an early night on Saturday – my kit bag was packed, running number pinned to vest and trainers laid out ready – but could I sleep? I eventually drifted off and woke to my alarm having had what felt like 2 hours sleep! I met Leanne, Nicki and Gareth for breakfast and before long we were on the tube heading to Greenwich.  After a stressful delay on the tube (this did not help our nervous disposition – it was a first marathon for us all!) we arrived at Blackheath with a few minutes to spare.  Luckily we bumped into a lovely bloke at Victoria Station – it was his first marathon too but his brother had run last year, and he was from London so he helped us to the start – thank you Steve! We waved bye to Nicki as she was at a different start zone to us, and Gareth, Leanne and I went to the Red start.  A quick comfort break, then the bag drop and we were heading for the start line – next we had to say bye to Gareth as he was in a different pen to us, further up the line. We’d made it! The atmosphere at this point was electric, and after the count down we were off! Sort of! You know when you watch it on the telly – all those people waiting to cross the line?? Yep – we were almost at the back! It took Leanne and me 23 minutes to get across the start but then we really were off!! The crowds were amazing – cheering everyone, shouting our names in encouragement! There were people having barbeques in their gardens, pubs spilling out into the road, playing music and doing their own commentaries.  I saw one or 2 faces I knew along the way – fellow runners with CHC

vests, and at mile 7 I saw the familiar Cornish and St Austell Running Club flags – it was so nice to hear some familiar voices cheering me on! The crowds cheering you keeps you going but it’s such a boost when it’s someone you know! My next focus was to see my family and friends at mile 9 where they were hoping to spot us, unfortunately I missed them but started looking out for Tower Bridge after that.

The miles were clocking up, and I was still feeling strong but knew the toughest was yet to come. I’d passed the half way mark but there was still a long way to go.  I started to feel tired at 19 miles but rounded a corner and saw our very own Oli waving and cheering so rewarded him with a sweaty high-5! This spurred me on, feeling positive and energised I put my head down and tackled the last 6 miles.

At 23 miles I started to feel as though it might never end but was suddenly aware of a frenzied cheering of my name.  I looked left and saw the most amazing sight – my partner, Richard, my dad and a load of my friends holding what can only be described as a scarecrow decorated in a Cornish flag holding a banner made by my 7 year old son!  What a boost! The next 2 miles are a bit of a blur, but before I knew it the 25 mile marker was above my head and I was in tears! It’s such an emotional day, and the crowds were literally going nuts at this point! I gave it my all and knew I had less than 10 minutes of running left.  As I approached the finish line I couldn’t believe I’d made it and as I went across (crying, obviously!) I was aware of being presented with my medal and being hugged by some random lady asking me if I was ok!!  How my legs made it across St James’s park I don’t know. I collected my kitbag, and the most amazing goody bag and finishers t-shirt – I even got one of those tin foil blankets!!!  I found Leanne and Gareth who were with some other friends from our running club – so lots of hugs, tears and congratulations.  Leanne was showing off her selfie with Kate Middleton!!!!  

At this point Leanne and I discovered Nicki had passed out at mile 20.  To say we were gutted is an understatement.  All that training and she hadn’t made it. We were desperate to know she was ok. Our families and friends then arrived so more hugs and congratulations, and then we got a phone call from Tom, Nicki’s husband – she’d started moving again!! We let them know we were going to a pub in Westminster (we were back in celebrating mode!) and in high spirits we waited for Nicki to finish!

All in all, it was one of the best, most exhilarating days of my life. Thank you Cornwall Hospice Care for the opportunity!

Jane Appleton is our East Community Fundraiser and we couldn't be prouder of her and the other participants. 

If Jane's story has inspired you and you'd like to take up the challenge in 2018, you can apply for one of our London Marathon Gold Bond places by clicking on this link Virgin Money London Marathon 2018 - applications are open until 31st August 2017.