8th June 2023

Following in their footsteps

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In 2002, Ruth Chappell watched in awe as her mum and dad ran the London Marathon. Little did she know that 21 years later, she would be treading the same route and tackling the world’s most iconic race.

“I came to running much later in life. In fact, it’s only been in the last couple of years that I caught the so-called running bug.

Before that, I was more of a sit on the sidelines and cheer kind of person! In fact, when Mum and Dad ran the London Marathon 21 years ago, I thought they were completely bonkers. I mean, why would you want to put yourself through that?!

So, it’s safe to say that whilst I was full of admiration for all the incredible people who could take on a race like the London Marathon, never did I think I would be amongst the runners!

It was back in lockdown 2020 when my passion for running first surfaced. I signed up for the Couch to 5k and it spiralled from there. I took on a 10k, then a half marathon. At that point a friend pointed out that I was already halfway to completing a marathon, so I took the plunge.

Running has given me something to completely lose myself in, to challenge myself to do paces and distances that I never even dreamed I’d be able to do. It’s also been a real lifeline over the past few years.

Mum was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2021. It came as a complete shock but looking back, there were signs. She had a lingering cough and was also experiencing a pain in her side. Still, you never expect this to happen to you and the people you love.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching whilst I’ve been out running, reflecting on Mum’s diagnosis, what it all means, remembering all the daft things we’ve done over the years and thinking about the future.

When we reached her one-year anniversary, we had a celebration. Then the following day, we celebrated Mum and Dad’s ruby wedding anniversary. These are massive milestones because at the time, you can’t help but wonder if Mum will still be here.

She started chemotherapy and radiotherapy after she was diagnosed, but last year made the incredibly hard decision to stop treatment. Our focus switched to making her more comfortable and to enjoy the time we have left together.

The London Marathon was a big milestone Mum wanted to get to. She is easily my biggest cheerleader in everything I do and we’re extremely close. She’s such a positive person and she makes everyone feel good about themselves. It was really important to her to see me run.

And she was there in, cheering me on as I followed in hers and Dad’s footsteps, completing the race at exactly the same age she was – 48. Her and Dad met me at the finish, and we all wore our medals proudly. It was very, very special and something I will always remember.

I want to say a huge thank you to the Hatch Warren Runners club. I followed their training plans to get me ready for the marathon. I suffered a bit of an injury towards the end of last year but I thankfully I recovered.

I know I’m not the fastest runner but I was really positive about the London Marathon. It’s as much a mental challenge as a physical one and I’ve had to dig deep many times and give myself a good talking to. I think it’s normal to doubt yourself at times, but I’ve worked hard to shift my focus to enjoying every single run and to take a positive out of it.

This race especially means so much. It was incredible to cross that finish line and hug my mum, know I’ve done my best to support the work of this amazing charity so they can help anyone going through what we’ve been through as a family.”