‘If I have to drag myself round to finish I will’

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EVER since watching Paula Radcliffe romp to victory in the London Marathon in 2002 I have always wanted to do one thing – run in the London Marathon.

This year, just nine years after I watched as an intrigued 16-year-old I am finally getting my chance to take on the famous 26.2 mile course.

For years the event has been one of the premier road races in the world and forms one of the top five marathons across the globe – and the only one to be run in two hemispheres as it passes through the Greenwich Meridian

Last year, just over 36,000 people took to the streets of London to test themselves over the gruelling 42km course and since its inception around 800,000 people have competed, some in memory of others, some to test themselves and some in deep sea diving equipment.

But my road to my dream has not been as long. Yes I may have waited nine years for the chance to run in the marathon but I always hoped to do it before I was 30, and a week before Christmas last year I got my opportunity.

A chance call from a friend at Willen Hospice, my personal favourite charity, saw me offered a Gold Bond Place, which would mean I would have to raise £2,000.

And with this heralding the 30th anniversary of not only the Hospice but thisnewspaper as well, the timing couldn’t have been any better.

The fundraising was not the daunting side of things though. I knew I would love nothing more than the chance to raise the cash for such a worthy cause which has looked after a number of family friends over the years.

The question arose on whether four months was enough time to train for it. So I got on to the one man who knows my training habits and abilities better than most – my friend and personal trainer at FitMK Simon Williams.

As I expected he gave me the tiny push I needed to jump at the opportunity and then it was straight down to the blood sweat and tears.

I know I can run a fair distance and my fitness is good but it still doesn’t stop the nerves. I don’t want to get 18 miles into the race and then find I’ve run out of steam.

Believe me if I have to drag myself round to finish I will. Willen Hospice is a charity close to my heart and I can’t afford to let them down.

To help me along the way anyone wanting to donate via sponsorship can do so by visiting my Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/Gareth-Ellis-Marathon-Man.

Follow my progress with regular updates in the Citizen or on Twitter by following @Citizen_Gareth.

Similarly you can look out for me on the redways of Milton Keynes, hopefully not too lonely a place for the long distance runner.