This weekend, more than 50 runners will be taking on the 26.2 mile challenge of the Virtual London Marathon to raise funds for The Salvation Army.
For the first time in its 40-year history, the London Marathon will take place virtually this weekend with around 45,000 people across the UK taking part. Each participant can choose to run, walk or jog (or a combination of all three!) to complete the marathon over the course of one day, Sunday 4 October 2020 on a route of their choosing.
We are grateful to all our runners who are raising money for Salvation Army projects across the UK and Ireland. Here we highlight just some who are taking part in this virtual event in in the areas where they live.
Kelly Barton, age 43, from Southport works at The Salvation Army’s Strawberry Field Centre in Liverpool as Volunteer Coordinator. She is raising funds for the Steps to Work programme which supports young adults with learning disabilities or other barriers to employment through a training hub in the centre.
Kelly has been registered blind since birth and runs with a guide runner. For the past four years this has been Mike Leatherbarrow, who for the last year has also been her partner. They met at their local park run and their relationship developed whilst they were out running together. Kelly said:
“Some young people can face many barriers when it comes to finding employment and I’m someone who understands just how hard that can be which is why I am passionate about raising money for the Steps to Work programme at Strawberry Field. I know it changes young lives.
“All my life I’ve gone around slowly. When you can’t see, you have to walk really carefully. I use a cane to guide me. But with a guide runner you have to put all your trust in them instead. I hold on to Mike’s arm and he describes what is going on around me. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to run and to run fast.
“If me taking part in the marathon gets just one person running or encourages people to think they can do anything then it would make me so happy. I’m living proof that there should be no barriers to employment at all and everyone should be encouraged to see their potential and reach for their dreams.”
Cameron Dockerill is 23 and a Research Scientist from Oxford. Cameron is a descendant of The Salvation Army’s founder William Booth. Many of Cameron’s ancestors have served as officers in The Salvation Army across the UK and overseas. Cameron is raising funds for The Salvation Army’s homelessness services in the UK.
“I chose to run for The Salvation Army because of my family and upbringing. The Salvation Army is a church and global charity with an emphasis on helping others and I want to do that. I’m raising money for The Salvation Army’s homelessness services as this is an issue I feel is very relevant today.
“I’ve always enjoyed competitive sport and have loved my training for the marathon. It’s made me realise just how much I love running and I’m now considering becoming a runner and devoting more time to it. It’s also helped me with my head space, I find it helps me to think clearly. There is so much research on running to back up the positive effect on mental health.”
Matthew Davenport aged 46 works at The Salvation Army’s James Lee House in Warrington. Matthew is raising money for The Salvation Army’s homelessness services. He says:
“Working at James Lee House (one of The Salvation Army’s supported housing centres) I see many people coming to us who have been affected by homelessness and who have lost control of some aspects of their lives. Every person who comes through our doors comes with unique needs so our support is tailored to their needs. For me it is a privilege seeing lives transformed as people move on to live independently with their heads held high.
“This marathon will be my third. I did one in my 20s, another in my 30s and now this is one in my 40s as I’m 46! I don’t really count myself as a runner though. I’m an open water athlete. I came third in the winter swimming world cup for my age group in the 2018/19 season.
“I am planning my route starting at James Lee House where I work and will then pass by four Salvation Army Lifehouses (supported living centres) finishing at Strawberry Field Centre in Liverpool.”
Miles O’Keefe, 25 is a barber from Merthyr Tydfil who began running only 18 months ago. Miles is raising money for The Salvation Army’s homelessness services. His interest in this area of our work began four years ago when he started volunteering to cut hair at his local drop-in centre. Miles said:
“Since I started running, my goal was always to do the London Marathon so I was delighted when I got a place to run in the Virtual London Marathon for The Salvation Army. It will be different doing it in Wales rather than in London, but I hope to actually run around the streets of London in the 2021 marathon next year!
“I was furloughed at the start of lockdown when all hair salons had to close but I still got up early every day to run. Running has been great for my mental as well as my physical health. I was doing well with my runs and thought I would manage a time of around 4 hours in the marathon but last weekend I fell coming down a mountain and sprained my ankle. I’ve not been able to run since, but I can stand and walk now so I will do the Virtual Marathon somehow!"
“Where I live, we’re on a local lockdown, so I can’t go out of the area but I am planning my route to take in the beautiful Pontsticill Reservoir. Wherever I am, I know my friends and family will be cheering me on virtually by sending me messages to help me along my way.
“I would encourage others to get involved in whatever way they can to support The Salvation Army. I count myself as fortunate, but others are not so fortunate. If I can give something to help people, whether that’s my time in cutting hair for the homeless or through sponsorship donations, then I will.”
Support The Salvation Army’s Virtual London Marathon runners via JustGiving.