I have had the privilege of running exclusively for the DSA for the last 10 years. My dedication to charity running changed overnight when my niece, Megan, was born with Down’s syndrome and since then I have only represented the Down’s Syndrome Association. It has been a source of great pride to do so.
So why did this tenth year really stand out for me? Well it wasn’t because I ran it on virtually no training due to injury – again! It wasn’t because I beat an Olympic silver medallist in a sprint for the line (about 5 years ago – genuinely!). It wasn’t because I ran straight past Paula Radcliffe at the halfway point (yes that did happen 3 years ago, but she was at the 21 mile point on the other side of the road going in the opposite direction!!). No, the difference was Team 21.
Firstly, being a bit of a “veteran”, the concept of Facebook was alien to me until this year when Alexa and Georgina set up a “Facebook Group” for all the marathon runners. Through that, I got to ‘virtually’ meet many wonderful people, all with their own story and all passionate about this charity for their own reasons. The runners for the DSA are very much people who have a genuine connection and this made a huge difference. I felt more privileged to be part of the group than ever.
Secondly, the theme for this year’s London was “Spirit Of London”, in celebration of a runner who selflessly helped another across the line in last year’s race. Which brings me to mile 21 of this year’s. As usual, at that distance, you are just starting to wonder what on earth you are doing and asking yourself if getting on the tube is a more sensible idea! Then I saw the DSA vest of my fellow Team 21 runner Frankie. After a quick conversation about how hard this was getting, we took on the “Spirit Of London” and ran together until the end. In the process both picking up pace and running as fast at the end as we had at the start. Supporting each other, we crossed the line together.
The DSA is a charity that provides incredible support to many through its valuable work. To have been able to support and be supported by a fellow member of our DSA team made this whole event one of the most satisfying. That is what this charity is about for me. Thanks DSA.