Activism

What it's like to run the London Marathon - by those who completed it

We catch up with the runners who've raised over £14,000 to help Big Issue sellers

London Marathon

Annie Constable running the London Marathon. Image: Dale Brodie Photography

It’s exhausting just to watch from the comfort of your sofa but last weekend thousands of people took part in the London Marathon. Among the hordes were some dedicated souls running for the Big Issue Foundation, which supports our magazine sellers.

In total, eight runners have raised £14,433 and counting – with more to come as post-run donations trickle in.

We caught up with them to find out what it was like – and why they wanted to support the Big Issue Foundation.

Henry Poust: Raised £1,000, time 3.03.51

Henry Poust: “We all know our local Big Issue vendors so the chance to support all of them through raising funds for the Foundation was really motivating.” Image: Dale Brodie Photography

What was it like?

“The consistency of support throughout really took me back.

“There’s so much to see and listen to as well, with live bands every few miles providing an opportunity to have a jig as I ran.”

Why did you want to run the marathon for the Big Issue Foundation?

“Going into this winter in particular, having the chance to support it felt really important, with more and more people being pushed into fuel poverty or homelessness.

“We all know our local Big Issue vendors so the chance to support all of them through raising funds for the Foundation was really motivating.”

Your support changes lives. Find out how you can help us help more people by signing up for a subscription

Jennifer Ward: Raised £600, time 5.26

Social worker Jennifer Ward gave up smoking and vaping two months before the marathon. Image: Dale Brodie Photography

“As a social worker with children and families on the frontline, I often see first-hand how people are affected by austerity cuts and the cost of living crisis, and I often see how benefits do not stretch very far and how close people are to adversities such as poverty, homelessness and mental ill health.

“During the race I was really struck by the diversity of runners, with people of all ages and abilities running. It was so inspiring and emotional to see.

“I only signed up at the end of August as I managed to find a charity space – for this reason I raised just a percentage of what’s usually expected, £600. I only gave up smoking and vaping two months ago, so I was also reminded about the power of the human body and its ability to recover. Thank you to the Big Issue for this amazing experience!”

Get the latest news and insight into how the Big Issue magazine is made by signing up for the Inside Big Issue newsletter

Annie Constable: Raised £2,480, time 4.26.13

Signs like ‘Pain is just bread in French’ kept Annie Constable going. Image: Dale Brodie Photography

“Honestly, I was so blown away by the support from start to finish, I didn’t focus on how much pain I was in! 

“I enjoyed seeing signs like: ‘Pain is just bread in French’ and: ‘You’re running faster than my gas bill’ but there was one moment when a woman just ahead of me starting walking, shaking her head and crying very close to the end, but what seemed to be a complete stranger just behind her scooped her up and was like: ‘I’ve been using you as my pacer since mile six and I don’t plan on stopping now, come on’!”

Matt Flynn: Raised £3,228, time 3.27

‘Apart from getting married and having children it is by far the best thing I have ever done,’ said Matt Flynn. Image: Supplied

What was it like? 

“The whole experience will live with me for the rest of my life. Apart from getting married and having children it is by far the best thing I have ever done. 

“Seeing that finish line is incredible and I’m happy to admit that it nearly brought a tear to my eye when I crossed the line and had a medal hung around my neck.”

Why did you want to run the marathon for the Big Issue Foundation?

“We have the most amazing Big Issue Vendor Kev in Winchester where I live. He always brightens up the day by telling jokes and playing his guitar. I believe no one in this country should be homeless and the Big Issue offers a great route back into society. 

“The foundation does excellent work in supporting the vendors and I’m happy I’ve raised some awareness for the work they do. I honestly couldn’t have picked a better charity to run for.”

Alex Murtough: Raised £2,000, time 3.42, not including the half marathon he ran before getting to the start line

Alex Murtough ran a half marathon to get to the start line. Image: Dale Brodie Photography

“The morning was pretty special. We left in darkness, saw the sun rise, and bumped into multiple marathon volunteers and runners en route, each visibly excited about the day to come.”

What would your message be for anyone thinking of doing it next year?

“Do it. Enter the ballot. Apply for a space with a charity close to your heart. Whatever, just go for it. And don’t just take my word for it – speak to anyone who’s run London and they’ll say the same – it’s sort of going to be up there in the best days of your life. Which always sounds pretty good to me.”

Joshua Pratt: Raised £1,820, time 4.02.43

‘It’s an incredible experience knowing that your achievement and pain will benefit many people who are in need of support more than ever.’ Image: Supplied

Why did you want to run the marathon for the Big Issue Foundation? 

“I have been a huge fan of the Big Issue for many years and have supported the charity by buying the magazine regularly and now have a subscription since Covid. I got to know the Big Issue vendor (Chris) on my university campus when I was a student back in the early 2000s and enjoyed being able to chat about many different things with him.”

What would your message be for anyone thinking of doing it next year? 

“Go for it! It’s an incredible experience knowing that your achievement and pain will benefit many people who are in need of support more than ever.”

To apply for a place for The Big Issue Foundation’s April 2023 London Marathon team, click here

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
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