Monday 21 October 2013

“I have never felt more alive” - Running the London Marathon

Ballot places in the Virgin Money London Marathon 2014 were released last month, and we at the Cystic Fibrosis Trust would love those of you who got in to run for us.

It is always inspiring when anyone runs a marathon for us, but even more so when that person has cystic fibrosis. People like Alastair Mavor, who has told us his story in the hopes that you all out there will come and be a part of Team CF.

“I have never felt more alive”.

As I stepped off the train the realisation hit me. The sponsorship, the training, had come down to this one day. I breathed in as deeply as I could. No crackles, no phlegm. I felt so incredibly clear. In body and mind. I sent a text to Mum and Dad.

“Thank you so much for all your support. I feel so excited right now. I love you so much. This really is what living is all about.”
I hated running at school, yet every year from the age of about six, I sat rooted in front of the TV watching the London Marathon, dreaming that one year I could run it.

So it became my gap year goal! The day itself was agony, but at the same time fantastic. A year later, at just 19, I had run my second London Marathon and managed to raise more than £30,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.
I’m 24 now. I have cystic fibrosis, and in April of this year, I ran my third marathon. I have, on the whole, been lucky with my health. I was probably fortunate to be diagnosed in my first three weeks, meaning I could begin the daily rigmarole of physio without my lungs degrading too greatly at the start. My parents were also incredibly disciplined about giving me my treatments, and it’s something I’ve managed to carry on throughout boarding school and university as a result. One thing that has helped me maintain my lung function over the last few years is my love of running.

I have found few better ways of clearing my lungs than a hard run to shake things up. This winter was one of the wettest and coldest for many years, yet running for my own health as well as training for the event provided another motivation to get out in the snow and churn out the miles. Hitting the trails of the Peak District also gave me relief from the stresses of University Finals!
But the thing which fired me up most was running and raising money and awareness for a charity that is incredibly close to my heart. Without the efforts of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, and all those who have supported it, I would not be alive today.

Before this year’s race, I kept my condition quiet from all but my closest friends at University. I suppose I was scared it would shape people’s opinions of me. I decided to be more open about it; to raise awareness of the disease, and to show people that I might happen to have a nasty condition, but it wasn’t going to stop me achieving all the things I wanted. I needn’t have worried. The support that came as a result was incredible. People who I barely knew started flooding my Justgiving page with donations. By the time the race began, I had reached over £5,000 and more than 150 donations. 
That instilled me with an unflinching desire to be on the start line, despite hobbling around on crutches due to an achilles injury three weeks before the race!

If you are thinking about a marathon, stop thinking and start doing. The feeling of elation and emotion when you cross that finish line is like nothing else. There were great miles, and horribly painful miles, but the overriding memory of making the final turn around Buckingham Palace, seeing 3 hours 50 on the clock, and running on through a wall of cheering and applause, is one I will never forget.

Have Alistair's words spoken to you? Then please use your ballot place and run for us in the Virgin Money London Marathon 2014. Details are on our website.

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