You may need to sit down for this one; it’s a long read – but worth it!
This year’s London Marathon was special for lots of reasons: it marked the return of the mass event to the capital, as well as being its 40th anniversary.
It was also the first time that Kevin Isbister – also known as the MaraMinion – had taken part since 2016.
This time though, his motivation for tackling the 26.2-mile course was intensely personal.
This time, each step he took would be in memory of his much-loved mum, Helen, who died of lung cancer in 2019.
“My mum was a truly amazing woman,’’ said Kevin.
‘’She was my rock through childhood to adulthood and there for me at every hurdle and success. She just always knew what to say, and how to say it. A great mother, friend, and utterly devoted Grandma.
“I had a very limited knowledge or understanding of lung cancer before mum’s diagnosis. It was a steep and worrying learning curve, and to be honest, it was frightening; especially learning of the mortality rate. I didn’t even know it was the biggest cancer killer in the UK, but now I truly understand how devastating it is and why more needs to be done.
‘’I’ve been a runner for many years and after losing my mum, I decided to do something in memory of her and to support this great lung cancer charity. So, I dusted off the Minion costume and took on the London Marathon once again.
‘’Little did I know I’d be thrown into a media whirlwind just a couple of days before the race…”
How did I get here?
“I’ve listened to the Chris Evans show for years, and this year, leading up to the Marathon, Chris was giving the event lots of coverage. In fact, his whole team signed up to take part.
“On the Thursday morning before the race, I answered a question on the show’s Instagram page – and 24 hours later I was live on the radio with Chris.
“My Instagram feed – @theMaraMinion – had caught the attention of Chris’ production team. As I trained in my Minion costume, I’d uploaded loads of funny videos of me running around. Chris and his team started talking about me on air and getting their listeners to follow and watch. On Thursday morning, my Instagram page had 25 followers, and by the end of the day it had 1500!
“That evening, they asked me to go on the show the next morning – just two days before the Marathon – and of course I JUMPED at the chance!
“I was surprised at how relaxed I felt talking to Chris on the radio. And at the end of the piece, I asked if the show’s sports presenter, Vassos, would like to run the marathon as a Minion, since I had a spare costume. He said yes straight away!
“I’d planned to run with my cousin Darren, and split our fundraising between two charities, Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity. The hospital had supported Darren’s daughter when she had successful surgery to remove a tumour on her spine.
“When I met Vassos on the Saturday to give him the costume, he asked if Darren and I would like to join him for dinner – along with Paula Radcliffe, Steve Cram, Chris Evans and the rest of his team!
“Obviously, we were delighted. Darren and I decided to turn up at the restaurant in full Minion costume to surprise them. We had a great night; we couldn’t believe our luck.
“The madness continued later that night, as we found ourselves still in full Minion costume being chased by a random group of lairy blokes. It reminded me of that famous scene from Only Fools and Horses where Del Boy and Rodney ran through London dressed as Batman and Robin!”
“Running for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation meant so much to me. I feel as though I have come full circle, as when I was a child, my family and I appeared on Roy’s Saturday Superstore. We took part in a World Record attempt for custard pie throwing, and I threw a pie straight into Roy’s face!”
“My Auntie Sue dug out a photo album shortly before the race, and it brought a smile to our faces, remembering that we’d met and spent time with Roy himself. I was so proud to run for the charity that bears his name.”
The big race
“Race day was amazing. As you can imagine, I didn’t get much sleep the night before with all the excitement of the previous 72 hours.
“We got our fair share of attention at the train station on our way to the start line. I did a playful warm up on the platform and wore my costume on the train; a schoolboy error, as it was incredibly hot – but all good for a laugh!
“The atmosphere at Blackheath was electric. We met loads of people, took lots of selfies and generally just enjoyed the build-up. Once we were over the start line, the fun really started! We were waving, and high fiving all the children – and grownups! – in the crowd.
“Darren and I had the time of our lives, jumping and dancing whenever music was playing and running in front of as many cameras as possible to get the charity logos ‘out there’. This paid off, as I knew the BBC cameras were on Tower Bridge, and I made sure I did a little dance in front of them, which my kids absolutely loved.
“We also got a shout out on the TV from Paula Radcliffe, as I had shared details of who we were running for the night before.
“As with any marathon there was the odd difficult moment, but we found a second wind for the last few miles. Having a picture of my mum and brother taped inside my costume gave me that extra boost when I was struggling.
“Down the Embankment, I got a third wind and went pretty wild – getting the crowd going, jumping and fist pumping constantly, resulting in some great pictures, which I’ll cherish.
“Darren and I crossed the finish line hand in hand, and most importantly we raised over £14,000 to split between our chosen charities – Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity.”
What’s next for the MaraMinion?
“I’m running the Yorkshire Marathon for Macmillan this weekend as they supported my family throughout mum’s treatment. I’m clearly going to bring out the MaraMinion and hopefully bring a few more smiles to the streets of York.
“After that, I intend to launch a much bigger challenge – 12 marathons in 12 months for 12 charities (The MaraMinion 12x12x12)
“For each of these, I will be joined by a guest MaraMinion or two. Vassos is already signed up; I just need 11 more people to take the plunge and join me. Are you up for the challenge? Get in touch!”
Please follow Kevin’s marathon journey on Instagram – @themaraminion