Monday, 14 April 2014

Running for charity – a commitment with massive rewards

It’s one of the best-known and best-loved sports events in the country, and about 36,000 runners lined up at the start line of The Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 13th April. Around 650,000 spectators cheered them on and yet more watched the action via TV broadcasts in 196 countries around the world.

Alongside the world’s elite runners, which this year included our very own Mo Farah running his marathon debut, the celebrities and the politicians, were everyday people – some running the course for the first time, some running to set a personal best, and still more taking part because they have a special reason to be there.

Running for Tommy's

For many, gaining a place at The London Marathon is a lifelong ambition. Competition for places is strong as entries work on a ballot system. Those that apply via the public ballot have a one in seven chance of a place. But many runners also look for a golden or silver bond entry - guaranteed places held by charities. And for those runners with a charity place, training, fundraising and running the London Marathon will prove to be a life-defining experience.

More than just running

Tommy’s, which funds research into stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage and provides pre-natal information, is one of the charities that offer London Marathon places. Diana Stenning is a Community Fundraiser for Tommy’s and agrees that completing an event such as the London Marathon to raise money for a cause close to their heart proves to be immensely rewarding. For many completing these events it is an emotional journey – as they come to terms with the loss of a baby by raising funds for more research for example – and meet others taking part for the same very personal reasons. Other key events Tommy’s offers places in include The Royal Parks Half Marathon, The Bupa 10k, The Bupa Great North Run and The Prudential Ride London.

Charity race
It's a win/win situation!

In her role, Diana works closely alongside her fundraising participants – and will remain in constant contact and offer continual support. She can provide fundraising materials and ideas (those running for Tommy’s in the London Marathon are asked to raise £2k) and will put you in touch with others running the same event, particularly if they are local to you. The bond formed with the charity and fellow competitors is so strong that around 25 per cent of those taking part in the London Marathon for the charity will be repeat runners.

How to raise money

Diana finds the physical side of training can divert some runner’s attention, but she is there to keep the fundraising on track too. She sets targets so that no one falls behind in their sponsorship and beings to worry. Her ‘quick win’ tips for fundraising include supermarket and train station collections, which have no cost outlay – shake that tin in fancy dress she suggests and you’ll be surprised just how much you can raise. She also advises using your wider network of friends, work and family – suggesting raffles and coffee mornings. If you have children, why not organise a mini-marathon, a cake sale or a non-uniform day at their school (Tommy’s is happy to split the money raised). And don’t forget the power of social media – set up a blog to keep your fans updated with your progress. 
London Marathon
Tommy's staff man a cheering station along the route

Tommy’s also provide practical advice for their fundraisers via a tie-up with The Octopus Clinic in London. The clinic offers free physiotherapy and nutritional advice to those in the Tommy’s teams. Diana warns runners not to over train, although in case of serious injury (and problems reaching fundraising targets) runners can defer their place for a year, and someone on the reserve list will run in their place.

Support from start to finish - and then some

On the big day itself, Tommy’s continues its support during and after the event. The charity operates four cheering stations at The London Marathon to motivate runners, and uses professional cheerleaders along the route too. After the race there’s a celebratory party – thankfully just a few minutes from the finish line – with complimentary massages, food, kids entertainment and other goodies to enjoy. 

Meanwhile at the After Party....

If you want to achieve something out of the ordinary with your fitness goals, and would like to raise funds for a cause with special meaning to you, a charity place in a major event such as The London Marathon could be your greatest achievement yet. There’s no doubt that the training, completing the event itself and raising a substantial amount of money can be hard – but the result is something that you will treasure even more than that finishers medal.

If you want to raise money for Tommy’s and run the 2015 London Marathon for the charity, you can apply online here

Have you ever taken part in a sporting event for charity? Is it something you have considered. Please share your opinions and stories in the comment box below.

Thank you for reading


  1. Did you watch the #LondonMarathon? And are you thinking of running it for charity? This post lets you know all the great support you'll get in return for your fundraising.

  2. Hi Vanessa, I've run 13 marathons now and for the last one I raised £1,000 for the Buscot Ward (Special Care Baby Unit) at the Royal Berks Hospital where Charlotte spent the first ten days of her life. All marathons are emotional but raising money for a cause close to your heart doubles the emotion of it. It was lovely to take the cheque to the ward, with Charlotte after the event. I have now written a poem about Charlotte's birth which I am going to send to the ward along with another donation. A traumatic birth experience never leaves you. Great blog as always. Judy x

    1. Wow! 13!!!! That's an achievement in itself - and the fundraising even more so. I'm sure your hard work and keeping in contact with the ward has made a difference to the many families that find/found themselves there. The London Marathon especially seems to demonstrate all the fundraising that goes on behind events such as these. Thank you for commenting!

  3. Running is not for me I'm afraid, but well done to all those who can, and great that the people not running, can at least contribute to the sponsorship! Do you think you will try a marathon next Vanessa? :)

    1. There's some top cycling events now too...I know you've been on your bike recently?! And no, I don't think marathon training is for me just yet - although i was very jealous of all the achievement on Sunday - what a buzz!! Thanks fo commenting.

  4. it changes the individual who gives charity. It is anything but difficult to state that one adore God and his kids, yet few individuals can catch up their words in deeds. giving