St Albans’ London Marathon runners are ready for a capital challenge

Georgia Wilding

Georgia Wilding - Credit: Archant

With just hours to go until the 2015 Virgin London Marathon, local competitors are gearing up for the capital’s biggest sporting event.

Katy Hayden

Katy Hayden - Credit: Archant

St Albans mother Lindsey Brown, 34, will be donning a cape and headband and metamorphosing into a superhero for her second marathon, on behalf of Children with Cancer UK.

She said: “Since my first marathon I have had two children but hope to better my previous time. This is a well-deserving charity, I hope to raise a significant amount.”

For Georgia Wilding, raising awareness of organ donation is her reason to run, as she competes for the transplantation charity Live Life Give Life. Originally from Harpenden, Georgia, 22, is now a transplantation nurse herself.

Her work is inspired by her cousin Jamie, 25, from Batford, who suffered from a rare enzyme disorder as a child and required two liver transplants before he was a teenager.

Laura Lane

Laura Lane - Credit: Archant

Jonny Bennett, 21, is taking part in memory of his brother, Joshua, who passed away in January. Running on behalf of mental health charity Mind, Old Albanian Jonny hopes to support others who suffer from similar illnesses to his brother.

“Now more than I ever I realise that, where mental illness is concerned, appearances are deceiving. A person with depression may not seem unhappy. Where Mind comes in is in raising awareness about issues that are often hidden away, campaigning for much needed improvements to mental health care and offering direct support to those affected.

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“And as sad as I am that we will never be able to run it together, as I am sure Josh would have loved, I know that in spirit he will be racing me all the way to the finish line in April.”

Also racing for his relatives is Neil Bishop of Jersey Farm. Having lost his grandfather to a brain tumour in 2004, his cousin is now living with two. Since diagnosis 10 years ago, he has had multiple operations, resulting in hearing, speech and balance difficulties.

Kate Carroll

Kate Carroll - Credit: Archant

As the tumours keep growing, Neil hopes that running for The Brain Tumour Charity might help find a cure for his cousin.

This is a big year for Neil, physically and personally. He will be competing in the gruelling Tough Mudder challenge a month after the London Marathon, and can look forward to getting married in July.

Sandringham Primary School headteacher Cindy Impey is running for for Blind Children UK.

The children at her small village school have been following her training and raised over £1,500 by holding a sponsored fun run, talent show and buying cakes at a teacher cake sale.

Neil Bishop

Neil Bishop - Credit: Archant

Kate Carroll is running despite the odds against her. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis two years ago, the St Albans solicitor struggled to walk, let alone run, due to swollen joints. Thanks to early diagnosis and treatment, she is able to compete this year and support the invaluable work of Arthritis Research UK.

Facing her fourth marathon, St Albans resident Laura Lane is running on behalf of the MS Trust, a charity she has already raised £20,000 for after her sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

She said: “I’m actually terrified as it will be my first marathon in 10 years, my first since having kids, and my first since managing an ongoing back problem. But it’s nothing compared to what my sister Amanda has to cope with every day, so I’m running for her.”

The memory of her father, Ray Fitzjohn, will be motivating runner Katy Hayden, of St Albans, who has already raised £1183.75 for a new CT scanner at the Paul Strickland Scanner Centre at Mount Vernon Hispital.

Sam Reed

Sam Reed - Credit: Archant

Katy explained: ‘My wonderful dad was in hospital for four months mostly in intensive care missing out on family life, one big occasion being my daughter Emily’s first birthday and the other being his 40th wedding anniversary. I watched dad fight so hard to get better and accomplish many milestones on the road to recovery but with every step forward came two steps back and a lot of disappointment but he never complained. Dad wasn’t able to communicate with us towards the end but he knew that his loving wife and daughters spent many days sitting with him so he wasn’t alone.

“I have decided to raise money for Paul Strickland Scanner Centre because when dad visited for his PET scan he said he would make a donation once he was better, but he never got to do this. I know there are lots of people asking for sponsorship and donations at this time of year but myself and my chosen charity would appreciate any donation that you can give.”

Harpenden resident Richard Blackwell is running for the charity Orphans Know More, which supports Ugandan families who have adopted children affected by HIV and AIDS. This includes sponsoring their education, repairing and building houses, training in agriculture and small business management, and providing appropriate technology.

Sam Reed, 19, also from Harpenden, aims to complete the marathon in three hours to raise £3,000 for The Children’s Trust, the UK’s leading charity for children with brain injury.

He explained: “I am running for The Children’s Trust as the charity helped one of the students at Haileybury School, which I also attended. Ashley was only 14 when she suffered a stroke at the school in 2012 and after being hospitalised for some time, she then received rehabilitation at The Children’s Trust, where she was helped to relearn everyday life skills, including mobility and speech. Thanks to the special care she received, Ashley was able to return home and is continuing to make good progress.”