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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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My London Marathon journey

Rachel, whose son Alex was diagnosed with Type 1 when he was just six years old took on the London Marathon after being inspired.

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Rachel's story

In April 2016, I was at home doing my ironing on a Sunday morning, and the London Marathon was on TV. I watched the whole coverage and was so inspired.

Seeing everyone’s inspirational stories, something came across me and I said to myself, if I start now I could do that next year and that could be me crossing the line.

To this day I don’t actually know why I thought that, as I have never been an athlete. I couldn't even run one mile let alone 26. At the end they made an announcement that the ballot for the London Marathon would be opening on Monday so I made a note and that was it. I entered into the ballot.

"I have never been an athlete, could not even run one mile let alone 26"

Being new to running I was a little bit naive, as I had never entered anything like this before. When I completed the application form there was a question, would I consider running for a charity and Diabetes UK was there. For me it was absolute no brainier.

My son Alex was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was just 6 years old. Over the previous years we had done various fundraising for the charity, and this way I could have a set goal. It's one thing to complete the marathon but it was really good to know that I could raise money for Diabetes UK so they can continue to help more people like Alex at the same time.

When Alex received his insulin pump, he asked if we could raise enough money to buy another pump so we could help someone else who has diabetes. Of course, any mother knows you do anything for your children. So our goal became to raise enough money to cover the cost of an insulin pump for someone else.

"Any mother knows you do anything for your children so this was our goal, to raise enough money to cover the cost of an insulin pump for someone else"

Throughout the whole training I felt challenged, inspired and a sense of accomplishment. I said right from the start that I was never going to set a time for myself to complete the marathon in. Honestly all I wanted to do was complete it and get the medal.

So that was my challenge - just to get to the finish, in my own mind everyone has to complete 26.2 miles, so to me it was never about the time. If you had asked me previously if I wanted to go for a run after work, it would have been a definite no, but when you start, something is unleashed inside you, and you actually feel excited looking forward to the next run; even in the rain.

When I got to the finish line, I couldn’t believe it that I had actually completed the London Marathon, I had the biggest smile on my face that lasted not only hours but it lasted days and months. I think I carried my medal around in my bag 3-4 months afterwards as I still couldn’t believe that I had done it.

"I have met so many people through Team DUK who are all amazing and inspirational and it is like being part of the family"

The challenge has changed my life in so many ways. Firstly, by completing it I myself have got a little bit fitter, but in addition to this I have influenced people around me, as my friends and colleagues from work would join me for a practice run. Also my son Alex would join me on runs, and it’s great to spend quality time together, even though I was too out of breath to talk to him and the fact that he was quicker than me. But after completing the marathon, you are on a roller-coaster and you really don’t want it to end, so you then book yourself another challenge and then raise even more money for Diabetes UK.

I have met so many people through Team DUK who are all amazing and inspirational and it is like being part of the family.

"For anyone thinking about taking on a challenge - just do it!!! I believe ‘if you never try, you’ll never know’ and also I’m not a quick runner...more of a plodder but again I believe ‘it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop"

In the future I would like to do a walking Marathon with my husband Duncan who has been my biggest supporter and is often found at the Team DUK cheerpoints, and I would like to be able to complete the London marathon with my son Alex, but this is a few years off.

When I hear about the work that Diabetes UK are doing it gives me a senses of reassurance that my son Alex will be ok. I know that his type 1 will never be reversed but working together as one team and the money that we all raise goes into research for now and the future. I do believe that going forward living with type 1 will be easier for him as I can already see how much technology has positively influenced Alex. Also if we as a team can help prevent type 2 then that surely has to be worth running a marathon for.

For anyone thinking about taking on a challenge - just do it!!! I believe ‘if you never try, you’ll never know’ and also I’m not a quick runner...more of a plodder but again I believe ‘it doesn’t matter how slow you go, as long as you don’t stop’

If you would like to take on a running challenge with Team Diabetes UK, hit the link below.

Choose your run

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