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Lucy's Story: Marathons in memory

Lucy holds 7 medals up. She is smiling and wearing her Diabetes UK Vest.


“I think about James when I run. I often wear my Diabetes vest at races. It is a conversation starter and lots of people ask why I wear this. So, for me, running for Diabetes UK gives me the opportunity to keep his memory alive.”

Lucy runs marathons in memory of her brother James and has done so for several years in various events, always fundraising for Diabetes UK. She shares memories of James, who was diagnosed with type 1 when he was just 28, along with her running journey, ahead of taking part in the Great North Run for Diabetes UK.


Great North Run

The Great North Run is well known for having a fantastic atmosphere and it has been on my running bucket list for several years. I love running in cities and towns, the support from big crowds brings great energy to runners and can help you to get over the finish line. I have applied unsuccessfully to run the Great North Run for about 5 consecutive years. I don’t seem to have much luck in ballots, so I was excited to finally get a place. I plan to enjoy every step.

Running gives, me the opportunity to visit new places and to connect with the supporting crowd. I cannot wait to meet the Diabetes UK team on the day of the Great North Run. I have never been to Newcastle and I am really looking forward to seeing the sights.


Preparation for the Great North Run is going well and I am getting excited for the event. I do not follow a technical training plan; I prefer to listen to my body and how it is feeling. If I feel good then I can up the mileage and then rest and recover. I always train specifically for the next race whatever it is. Whether it is a 10km, a half marathon or a full marathon, I respect every distance and I envisage the finish line when I am training.

For those thinking of signing up

I would say just do it! Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith and believe in yourself. It also helps to think about all the health benefits that signing up to the Great North Run could bring to you.

If you never run another race again, then what an amazing achievement, or you could get bitten by the running bug and it could be the start of a great new hobby.



I can still remember lacing up a pair of old unbranded trainers to go out on my first run. I hadn't run for many years, since school, I was a busy mum of four children and my body wasn’t overly impressed with the new demands I was putting on it. I managed small distances and after a few weeks I noticed that I was able to run further, it became easier and I was really empowered by this.

Best bits

You get out of running what you put into it, and you are accountable only to yourself. It's not all about the running. When I sign up to races, I get to visit new places and I meet new people on my running adventures. I have some fantastic running buddies, and some of these likeminded people have become good friends.

I encourage other people to run all the time because I appreciate what it has done for me. Have faith in yourself and you will be surprised what you can achieve. You can run socially with friends or you can choose to run alone, it can as expensive or as cheap as you want it to be.  Ultimately it will improve your physical and mental health. We are all different, but no matter what the distance, from 5km to an Ultramarathon, if you go running, you are a runner and I am a firm believer that it will better your life.

Hard moments

There have been many hard moments, like finding myself on a trail marathon on a very cold January day, trying to stay upright, let alone run in ankle deep mud for 26.2 miles. That was a tough one. I think the hardest part of running regular marathons is dealing with the tiredness that can build. I am lucky that I have never been injured, but the body aches and pains can really knock your confidence, especially if you have an event coming up.

Training, running the marathon and then recovering, on repeat can be tough. I learned this especially when the marathons fall on consecutive weekends. If you price in the routines and demands of regular life on top of multiple marathons then at times it can be exhausting. I have learned to try to not to give this too much energy, knowing that tiredness will pass and over the last couple of years my recovery time has much improved. When I have felt exhausted, the sponsorship and the belief from others has kept me motivated.

Diabetes UK and me

My marathon journey

I started running in 2017, I ran a few half marathons and 4 full marathons in the space of about 4 years. In the Autumn of 2021, I decided to set myself the challenge of running 12 marathons in 12 months to raise money for Diabetes UK.   This was a big deal to me, to stay injury free, fit and well enough to complete such a massive challenge

There are so many favourite moments, but one stands out. I was running the Manchester Marathon in 2022. I ran in to Deansgate, I could see myself wearing my Diabetes UK top on a giant screen. The race commentator read out my name and told the supporting crowd that I was running 12 Marathons in 12 Months for Diabetes UK in memory of James. The support was amazing. It was a very proud moment for me and if I was feeling concerned about the challenge ahead, it reminded me exactly why I was doing it.

In July 2022, at the Wales Marathon, I finished my 12 Marathons in 12 Months challenge. It was a tough course, but I was proud that I had finished the task ahead of schedule - I had completed 12 marathons in 10 months! I had enjoyed the challenge so much that it was no surprise to my family and friends that I continued to run marathons. I totalled 14 during that 12 month period.

I had started the campaign not really knowing what I was capable of, if indeed I would be able to stay fit, well and complete it. The person that began that challenge was not the same person who finished. I had more confidence. I was stronger, fitter and believed in myself.

I had enjoyed fundraising and flying the Diabetes UK flag so much that I realised I couldn’t give it up! So, I carried on running. I recently completed marathon number 28 and I have plenty more booked, well in to 2024. I would also like to start running marathons abroad.  


Inspired by my brother

My brother was diagnosed with diabetes when he was in his late 20s and at times he struggled to manage his condition. Sadly, our family suffered a devastating loss, when he was just 38 years old, he died of Diabetic Ketoacidosis.


James was a very lively and funny character. In his secondary school years, he was a talented all-round sportsman. He captained both Repton and Northern Independent schools at football and won his school colours for hockey, fives and cricket. His football career was cut short by a knee injury, so he later took up golf.

He enjoyed travelling and he visited Barbados, Los Angeles, Australia for the Ashes and many more places. Perhaps his biggest adventure was a road trip where he drove 3000 miles, all over Europe, in 11 days! James loved music and he had his own Sunday afternoon show of Jazz and Blues. A lover of general knowledge quiz shows, James also captained a team for the BBC show "Eggheads".  

James had a real sense of adventure, whether it was scuba diving, hot air ballooning, camel riding or taking his beloved terrier for a walk on the beach in Norfolk. James was up for it all.


It was a huge shock for him, especially for a sporty person who had been so fit and well. At the time of diagnosis, he had been struggling with his health for a couple of years. When he was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, even though he finally had the answer, this was the start of a difficult period of self-management and adjustment for him. In particular he struggled to maintain his blood sugar levels.

James used Diabetes UK for dietary support and information to understand his condition. He would always verbalise to friends and family that team Diabetes UK were the people he could ask questions and receive reliable information. He had faith that pioneering research from team DUK would make this condition easier for him to manage in the future.

Daredevil James once jumped out of a plane to fundraise for Diabetes UK, so running and fundraising in his memory seemed like a good way to place my grief.

What would he think?

He would probably think that I have gone crazy. Because of his competitive background in sport, he would possibly be interested in my marathon times and he would likely be encouraging me to push myself harder.

It is my wish that one day nobody will lose a loved one to this disease. For as long as my legs will carry me, I will always run and fundraise in his memory.

James was a fantastic son, brother and uncle, with an infectious energy. He was incredibly adventurous, funny and full of life. Not a day goes by where we don’t think of him and wonder what life would be like today if he was here. We love him, we miss him. I’ll keep on running.

Lucy has a JustGiving page at

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