Running a marathon for charity

A rewarding experience you'll never forget

By Lauren Ward

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of completing your first marathon. Even better is using it as an opportunity to fundraise for a cause that you care about. In 2019, Inspired Adventures’ Senior Campaign Manager Lauren completed the Paris Marathon, while raising funds for Prostate Cancer Research. The experience left a mark on Lauren and inspired her to push herself in ways she hadn’t thought possible. She'll be tackling the Melbourne Marathon in 2024, raising funds for Vision Australia.

In 2019, I was working as an events fundraiser at a charity in London when inspiration struck and I decided to register for my first marathon, the Paris Marathon. I had previously worked on the London Marathon for 3 years in a row. I’d witnessed the electric energy of a marathon, and saw all the incredible runners enjoying themselves and raising a huge amount of funds for charity. So, when the opportunity arose to run a marathon in one of my favourite cities, I jumped at the chance! 

I had run 10ks and half marathons before, which had given me a taste for medals. But, as a slow runner, I knew that Paris would be a big personal challenge for me. Although this was daunting, I had an inner belief that I could finish and I was excited at the idea of running towards the finish line at the iconic Arc de Triomphe. I was provided with a training plan, which I found really useful as it kept me accountable and on track, and broke the training down into achievable runs to steadily grow my endurance.

I fundraised for Prostate Cancer Research, the charity I was working for at the time. After working there for 3 years, I knew many of the beneficiaries quite well, and had lost a couple of them recently to prostate cancer, which drove my passion even further. I fundraised purely by reaching out to my friends and family, with a particularly generous donation meaning I was about to raise more than double my initial target, which I was extremely pleased with. I love fundraising so it was really rewarding and heartwarming to have my network rally around me in accomplishing this physical challenge and the fundraising. I felt super supported and I was proud of the amount I raised for such a great organisation.

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In the months leading up to the marathon, I hit another hurdle when I broke a small bone in my foot. This meant that I had to be very cautious with my training to not overstrain my injury. I spoke to a personal trainer who helped me develop a plan that would keep me on track for Paris. Thankfully, one of my biggest challenges ended up being a minor problem - finding the long training runs a bit boring. I’d suggest finding a good running partner, making an upbeat playlist or finding a good podcast to keep you occupied, and running different routes to minimise repetition. The runners’ high is real, but you have to work to get it! Running with a friend is much better and much more fun. All you will want to talk about is your marathon training - it becomes an obsession.

Before I knew it, the big day had come around. I was nervous but excited, and the iconic route was filled not only with Paris’ most famous landmarks but with countless performers and supporters who cheered us on, which really made all the difference. You hear it all the time when talking about marathons, but the energy truly is electric. Although it was far from easy, I surprised myself and was able to complete the entire 42.2km without stopping. I took it slow and steady, listened to my body, and proudly crossed the finish line filled with adrenaline and pride.

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My biggest tip for post-marathon recovery is to treat yourself to a massage - you deserve it! My calves were sore afterwards and my skin was very dry, but overall the recovery wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated. Not to mention, I was still in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so just looking out the window was enough to make me smile!

My experience of running the Paris Marathon was incredibly rewarding! Although I broke my ankle later in 2019 and was forced to take a break from running, the memories of completing my first marathon in Paris have motivated me to keep going. Every marathon is different and it is now a goal of mine to run one marathon every decade of my adult life! High up on my list is the London Marathon, because I’ve witnessed in person just how special it is. I hope the opportunity arises soon, because there’s nothing quite like it!

 

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