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On Sunday 21 April, Helen Rowbotham, Access Sport's Chief Executive, ran the TSC London Marathon, completing the 26.2-mile course in 4hrs 7 minutes and 59 seconds.

Helen took on this amazing challenge to support Access Sport in our 20th anniversary year as we work to impact 20,000 young lives in 2024.

Article by Helen Rowbotham, Chief Executive

Last Sunday, I ran my first marathon! 

It was a challenge I had first attempted back in 2004 but, unfortunately, I fractured my heel bone just a month before the race. That was enough to put me off trying again, until last year when I was invited by the London Marathon Foundation to the finish line spectator area. 

Watching Sifan Hassan win the elite women’s event in her first marathon, a man carrying a radiator on his back and hordes of charity runners, I was totally in awe and inspired to give it another go! 

I also knew, as Chief Executive of Access Sport, a beneficiary of the London Marathon via the London Marathon Foundation, that this was a fantastic opportunity to raise funds for a cause close to my heart.

Arriving in London on Sunday morning, I joined the crowds of people making their way to Blackheath and said goodbye to my family as I entered the start zone. After locating my start point, I waited nervously as the first waves of runners left. And then it was my turn. I entered the holding pen for Red Wave 6 and chatted with my fellow runners about how cold it was.

As soon we started moving, my nerves disappeared, and I found myself behind a brilliant 4-hour American Pacer called Emmie. I knew that if I could stick with her and absorb a little of her endless positivity (which included karaoke!), it would stand me in good stead, and I was right. Her energy and the crew that formed around her, combined with the incredible cheers and encouragement of the crowd along the entire route, kept me going strong until 25km but I then got separated from the group in the crowds and couldn’t get back. 

From them on I was on my own but with 10km or so to go, my legs were getting tired and my knees were not happy. ‘Only two park runs to go’ I kept telling myself until I was finally on the Embankment. With runners dropping like flies due to fatigue, strains and pains, I tried to keep it together, focussing on keeping my form. And then we were on the Mall, the final stretch, past Buckingham Palace and the finish line was finally in sight!

Raising my arms as I crossed the line, I felt completely elated and overwhelmed by what had been an amazing experience from start to end. 

Despite my sore legs, I am proud to have completed my first marathon, privileged that it was the London Marathon, and happy that it was in aid of Access Sport. However, I still haven’t reached my fundraising target of £2024, so if you would like to help me get there, my Just Giving page is linked below. 

A huge thank you to everyone for your support. It means the world to me!

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