Thursday, 21 April 2011

Running the London Marathon to raise funds for adoption and fostering

Alexandra talks about how she ran the London Marathon to raise funds for adoption and fostering. 

The first impression was of slight anti-climax. I’d been building towards this moment for the last nine weeks and when the gun went off, nothing happened. Twenty-five minutes later I reached the start line and the crowd broke into a run. The first few miles had a religious flavour, a Catholic priest standing on the kerbside murmuring blessings and scattering droplets of holy water, a mile or so further on a more evangelical, louder group hurling ladlefuls of holy water across the runners, who at that point included a couple as Adam and Eve.
  
Everybody said ‘the crowd’ll get you round’, and I hadn’t really understood just what that meant, but they did. I had also been told how important it was to put my name on my shirt, so I did. It meant that every couple of minutes somebody called out ‘Come on Alexandra’, and I had to look to see who it was and smile at them, so I ended up smiling most of the way round. My husband spent the day dashing around London in order to pop up at as many places as possible, giving me a great boost every time I spotted him.

As well as the spectators, the other runners provided a distraction from the actual business of running. Is it just London? I can’t imagine there are many other countries where you would see two men dressed as a double-decker bus overtaking a girl dressed as a testicle.

Just before half-way I ran past the group of BAAF supporters, giving another boost to the spirits. It didn’t click until I was about a mile past them that the almost-teenager standing with her mother in that group was a child in whose case I’d been involved several years ago. There was a story standing there, two people whose lives are happier because of adoption, and there are hundreds of others out there who I don’t know and will never meet, but who have been touched, directly or indirectly, by the work BAAF does. That realisation had me welling up again (hold on, it’s a hot day, can’t afford to dehydrate!) and pushed me on into Docklands.

The route went into a tunnel at Blackfriars, where spectators weren’t allowed, and the withdrawal of support, plus the uphill slope out of the tunnel, had an impact. I slowed to a walk out of the tunnel, but then spotted my husband again, watching out for me on the Embankment. I didn’t want him to see me walking and persuaded my legs to start running again.

Round the front of Buckingham Palace and I could see the finish line, I was actually going to have run a marathon. Never thought I would, didn’t think I could, but I did, I really did. I have an odd expression in the finisher’s photo, my face hasn’t made up its mind whether to laugh or burst into tears. It was a hugely emotional day, and despite what the photos might suggest, I loved every minute. I’ll be applying for another go next year as soon as the ballot opens.

I haven’t met my fundraising target yet, and it’s not too late to help me out - my page at www.virginmoneygiving.com/AlexandraConroyHarris is still open. Please consider visiting it.

If you are interested in taking part in one of BAAF's fundraising activities, please visit the website.




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