Meet the two inspiring runners taking on the London Marathon for us
This year marks the first time, here at Hamlin Fistula UK, for us to be part of the Virgin Money London Marathon and we’re over the moon to have two runners taking on the race and raising funds to end fistula: Ali White and Mike Wood.
And if you ever wondered if it’s too late to take up running – Mike, who started running at the age of 60 and is now taking on a marathon at 71, is an inspiration!
About the London Marathon 2021
On Sunday 3 October 2021, 50,000 runners will have the chance to be a part of the biggest marathon ever staged anywhere in the world and the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon will return this year, giving participants the opportunity to take on the world’s greatest marathon on the course of their choice, wherever they are on the planet. event will join a record 50,000 participants who will run the traditional Virgin Money London Marathon from Blackheath to The Mall.
Hamlin Fistula UK is on board this year to raise awareness, help #EndFistula for women in Ethiopia and fund at least three women’s life changing fistula surgeries.
Mike’s preparation training in the past few weeks has included running the Alderley Edge Bypass 10k in 56 minutes and the Bramhall Parkrun in 27 minutes. Mike has chosen to run the London Marathon to raise awareness of what fistula is and of the amazing work Hamlin Fistula is doing to help women in Ethiopia recover from this preventable childbirth injury.
In his efforts, Mike is joined by our second marathon runner, Ali White.
We caught up with Ali, who is a long-standing supporter, volunteer and recently also an invaluable team member of Hamlin, to ask a few questions about her support, preparations and expectations for her first ever marathon challenge. This challenge marks Ali’s first encounter with a marathon and we look forward to cheering her on.
How long have you been running for?
I have always been sporty and have run to a greater or lesser extent for as long as I can remember. In 2019 I ran the London Half Marathon and it was such a great experience but since then I have never run farther than 21km (until now). Since then I have continued to run intermittently but hadn’t considered a marathon until this year.
What made you decide to run the London marathon for Hamlin Fistula UK?
The Hamlin Fistula Hospitals hold a special place in my heart. I first became aware of the Charity growing up in Australia, then my school raised money for the Charity and we also knitted the squares to be made into blankets for the women in Ethiopia. We learnt a lot about Catherine Hamlin and her work as a result of this. I always thought it was an amazing story and a wonderful Charity.
Fast forward 20 years and I am now involved in the organisation in Ethiopia in an advisory capacity, supporting the CEO and team in their strategic and operational improvement plans. I have been lucky enough to visit Ethiopia twice now and meet Catherine in February 2020 before she passed away and I will always cherish this moment. I had been toying with the idea of a fundraising challenge this year and when the opportunity presented itself, I thought, what better charity to run it for than Hamlin Fistula UK!
How is your marathon training going?
Training is going well. I have found it tricky in terms of the time commitment with the marathon being in October this year so training has fallen over the summer period, in addition I am also studying for my accountancy exams. However, I think I am doing okay and ultimately just want to finish on the day and be proud of the achievement – as opposed to run for a specific time. If I happened to miss a few runs whilst on holidays, I haven’t beaten myself up over it. Although, the runs I did in Lisbon a few weeks ago were really beautiful and its easier to run when you’re in the sun next to the beach.
You are doing amazingly on your fundraising for Hamlin Fistula UK already – what is your fundraising goal?
My goal is two fold – obviously I would like to raise at least the £2,000 target I set myself but I am also really keen to raise awareness of the charity here in the UK and also back in Australia. I think the charity is doing amazing work so anything I can do to push that out into my network, I will.
What are you most excited about for the big marathon day?
I am most excited about the atmosphere and the experience. The London marathon has been on my bucket list and something I wasn’t sure I would ever get the opportunity to do, so I will take it all in and enjoy the ride!
We want to wish Ali and Mike the best of luck and thank them for their support of the life-changing work Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia is delivering.
You can support Ali and Mike by donating and leaving messages of encouragement on their fundraising pages below