Liverpool Marathon - Courtney's story

As we gear up for a new year of fundraising, we caught up with Courtney, who went from being a novice runner to completing the Liverpool Marathon last year, and in less than 5 hours!

If you’re feeling inspired and want to join our team of Headway Heroes, you can email support-us@headwayeastlondon.org to find out what events are coming up this year! Our Headway Heroes have collectively climbed, danced, cycled, swam and ran hundreds of miles for our fundraising kitty.

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Courtney, with her mum and sisters

How did you hear about Headway East London?

My mum is a volunteer at HEL. She had a brain injury five years ago and Headway have been a huge support to her ever since.

Why did you pick the Liverpool marathon?

It was suggested by my cousin, who runs marathons every now and again. He wrote a message in our extended family WhatsApp chat, and two of my younger cousins agreed to run with him. Not to be bettered by those younger than me, my competitive spirit got the better of me and I signed up too!

Can you tell us a bit more about your training and how you got ready for the marathon?

Here’s a confession: before signing up I’d never ever been on a run before. PE at school was never something I enjoyed and my favourite place at home is the sofa/my bed. But I’d spontaneously committed to this huge goal, and it was like a switch went off in my head to get me into training mode and ensure that I stuck to it. The timing couldn’t have been better; I signed up in mid-October, shopped for some running gear and then did an 8 week couch-to-5K to get myself somewhat fit before the New Year. I then used the Nike Run Club App to do a 19 week plan – it programs it all for you, which was great for a novice like me – and lo and behold by the end of it I became Someone Who Runs For Fun!

Though you should never say never (I always said that I’d never run a marathon), I saw this as my one and only marathon and took those 19 weeks very seriously. I was quite strict with my food (no snacks during the week, chocolate was earned after my weekend Long Run), and didn’t drink alcohol for those five months. This may have been a tad extreme, but I wanted to get as fit as possible to give myself the best chance of achieving this once-in-a-lifetime goal and get over that finish line one way or another.

I had three aims; finish the marathon (I did), finish it in under 5 hours (my final time was 4.55.56), and run the whole way (I took a walking break at mile 20, but I have no regrets). I couldn't have done it without my mum and sisters; they kept popping up to see me at different points over the course and at the finish so I had bits to look forward to throughout. Looking back on it seven months later I’m still in awe that I actually managed to do it!

"It was coming up to five years since my mum’s injury and the timing felt right to do something really positive and healthy to celebrate what she’s achieved since then and how far my family have come"

How did you find fundraising?

Initially, I signed up for 'fun' and then decided that I would fundraise too. It was coming up to five years since my mum’s injury and the timing felt right to do something really positive and healthy to celebrate what she’s achieved since then and how far my family have come as a result. I didn’t expect to raise much at all, but friends and family were very generous and I managed to raise £735.00 ( £96.25 in Gift Aid), which was incredible and really appreciated. The hardest part of fundraising was actually opening up to people about why I was doing it; it was a very personal story to share, and it did feel like I was baring my soul on the JustGiving page for all to see!

Have you visited us at Headway East London?

I’ve been a few times; to visit and discuss fundraising, and last year my mum’s caseworker invited my sister and I to join some of the Headway family for Christmas lunch in early December. It was great to meet some of the people who are important to my mum, and see first-hand how you all support the members and volunteers there.

"The biggest obstacle to a challenge like this is your own doubt; if you can learn to overcome it you’ll get stronger in every sense of the word. All in all I would say to just try your best, and enjoy the ride!"

Do you have any advice and encouragement for others thinking about signing up for charity fundraising?

I know it’s a cliché, but it’s true that you can do anything you put your mind to! It won’t always be easy, but doing it for a cause can really help you persevere when it’s tough, and at the end of it you’ll reach a goal that you’ll never forget. The biggest obstacle to a challenge like this is your own doubt; if you can learn to overcome it you’ll get stronger in every sense of the word. When things seem overwhelming, break it down into smaller milestones, and keep things simple (running really is just putting one foot in front of the other). All in all I would say to just try your best, and enjoy the ride!


We're currently looking for 2 runners to join our team in the sold out Big Half Marathon in March - if you think you're up for the challenge get in touch by contacting Rosie on 020 7749 7790 or support-us@headwayeastlondon.org

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Crossing the finishing line!