My London Marathon challenge with Team Diabetes UK – by Scott

What’s it like to run the big race with us? Scott shares his journey.

When your life changes forever, how do you cope? In 1998, my six-year-old son, Lewis, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Despite great support from the hospital, my wife and I initially had no idea what diabetes was, what this meant, and how to deal with his condition. Nothing prepares you for the constant worry and daily emotional turmoil. But, thanks to support from organisations like Diabetes UK, we’ve survived and thrived as a family for the last 20 years. (Scott is pictured with his daughter, Faith, his son Lewis, and his wife Caroline).

In 2017 I decided to approach Diabetes UK and put myself forward to finally fulfil my 30 year-long ambition of running the London Marathon. I had been running regularly for about 10 years with Larry, a close friend, who sadly passed away from cancer 2 years ago. But I kept running and managed several half marathons. Last July I got that magical phone call from Lynsey at DUK offering me a place.

Once I got over the shock and realisation that I was actually going to be running 26.2 miles, and it being London, I set-up my Just Giving fundraising page…. and then told EVERYONE! I continued my running throughout the autumn but picked up a foot injury (Plantar Fasciitis), which was the last thing I needed. Still determined, I continued to fundraise and kept fit in the gym while resting my foot throughout November, December and January.

A shared goal

At the end of January 2018, I attended the Diabetes UK training day in London. This really changed things for me in a big way. From being focused so much on achieving my 30-year goal of just running the London Marathon, I realised that raising money for this amazing charity was just as, if not more important, to me. It also made me realise how special this whole journey was actually becoming, (a ballot place would have felt almost pointless by comparison). Everyone I met on that training day made me feel so welcome, inspired and part of a family with the same goal.

By February 2018, I was now back running again, although with limitations due to my foot injury. The training was hard, it pretty much took over my life! I also had to stretch, ice and massage my foot a few times a day, which was extremely tedious and boring.

As we hit March I was hit with the flu: 11 days in bed and a further 5 days without training. However, I managed to finish my final 20 mile training run in a time of three hours, despite a sub-zero blizzard. My fundraising efforts almost meant I had passed my target and was promoting the cause as much as possible.

The heat is here

Race weekend! My wife and I spent a lovely, albeit nerve racking, Saturday evening in the hotel, chatting to other runners staying there. My son and daughter travelled down early on Sunday to join my wife at the first Diabetes UK ‘cheering point’ on the route.

Meanwhile, my only concern was the weather: already 18°C and sunny at 8:30am, not good. The starting area was buzzing and the atmosphere was electric. I met other members of the DUK team which felt great. After photos and chats, we headed off to our starting zones… This was it: my marathon goals were to finish, run all the way, and complete it in four hours.

From the start, the crowds were insane. From mile 1 to 26, the streets were packed with cheering spectators, bands playing music, and constant noise from bells and horns. But it was now 26°C on the tarmac and already challenging. As I approached Tower Bridge at mile thirteen, I looked for the Diabetes cheering point but then suddenly noticed my family were on the opposite side. Too late, I’d missed them: gutted.

At mile 17, the heat really started to get to me, I was feeling unwell and slightly freaked out from witnessing two runners collapse from the heat (and several receiving treatment from St John medics). Although still on schedule for a 4:05 time, I decided to run a slow mile, rehydrate, and recover (by now, hundreds of participants were walking).

Finishing in one piece with my medal became the priority. I was exhausted but just wanted to enjoy the day and its wonderful atmosphere. By mile 21, I genuinely had nothing left. The heat was draining and my thoughts were now completely focused on that finish line.

As I approached the second Diabetes cheering point, something wonderful happened: I wasn’t expecting to see my family this time, but there they were! A quick hug from my wife, coupled with the cheers of the Diabetes team, gave me the final lift I desperately needed.

Those last 4 miles were absolutely brutal, I just kept telling myself to keep going no matter what and to run those last few miles for my son, my running partner Larry and myself. As I passed the final Diabetes cheering point at 25 miles, the noise and support was fantastic. Running towards Buckingham Palace, exhausted, I heard people shouting my name, telling me I was almost there; the crowd were absolutely incredible, almost physically pulling me along as I turned the corner and finally saw it: the finish line!

There are a few unforgettable scenes in life that are pure elation. Seeing that finish line, and running towards it, was definitely one of those scenes…twenty years on since Lewis was diagnosed with diabetes, this was another truly special moment for me and my family. Raising almost £3,000, finishing an incredible and enjoyable journey and running all the way.

Thanks to Lynsey (fundraising events manager) and team at Diabetes UK for this amazing opportunity as well as the kind ongoing support they offered throughout this experience, including the training day and during the marathon itself. Raising both money and awareness for diabetes has been a real privilege for me and my family.

More information 

If you’re successful in the London Marathon ballot this October, drop us a line at events.fundraising@diabetes.org.uk to find out how you can register to join #TeamDUK.

We’ll be offering three training days – one in November, one in January and one in March.

 

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