Bringing the Medal home….
On Sunday 23 April, Chris Mardo, Head of Digital Project Management at Aylesworth Fleming in Bournemouth took part in the London Marathon, running for Oliver & Learn in support of our charity partner, Friends of Kianjai Kenya. Thankfully back to the office in one piece with no injuries to report, we caught up with Chris to find out more about his marathon running experience, including what it was like to be part of the event and how it felt to finally cross the finish line.
Let’s start at the end – how did it feel to finish?
“It felt great – maybe a tinge more relief than anything else. It only really started to hit me after I’d got my medal and was walking over to meet my family. All the long hours of training had been worth it, and I’d managed to complete it in 4 hours 7 minutes – that felt really special.”
Before the event
“The whole event was very well organised. Despite how packed in all the runners look on TV, it looks a lot worse than it actually is; it only took about 5 minutes to get over the start line and I was already jogging at this point. This really helped me as I managed to keep a decent pace right from the off.
If I’m honest, I started to feel nervous when I got to the start, but I tried to not get too wound up. You can use the adrenaline if you’re doing something quick, but it won’t last for four hours, so I knew I had to not get too worked up! There was a great buzz in the pens waiting for the start though; people were really keen to get cracking and everyone was very positive which was a good sign.”
On the run
“It was fantastic to be part of such a huge event. The first half went by very quickly; I didn’t have much time to think about it! There was such a huge noise from the crowd and so many different things to look at that your mind was taken away from thinking about your legs. The area around the Cutty Sark was absolutely packed and there was a massive wall of noise as you went through the area. It was only when it got a bit quieter around the Isle of Dogs that I started feeling my legs for the first time and I knew it was getting a bit tougher. It was around the 21 mile mark that I got a few cramps. That was my lowest ebb as I knew there were still 5 miles to go; I was struggling to pick my feet up off the ground so I walked for a small part of these final miles. Timing went out of the window as it was just about getting to the end! What was a real help at this point and through other parts of the route was when the crowds got bigger and you could see and hear so many people there to spur you on – it was a real motivator to keep going.”
If you’ve ever run the marathon or watched it on TV, you’ll always spot people running in fancy dress. I ended up finishing at almost the exact same time as someone running for the Samaritans in a fancy dress phone booth. There was also someone bouncing two basketballs all the way along the route. But, more weirdly, there was a guy carrying an actual washing machine around – I really don’t know how he did it!”
After the event
Completing his first marathon is a huge personal achievement for Chris. Now that he’s had time to reflect on his accomplishment, we wanted to know how it felt to not only have done this for himself, but also for Kenya’s disabled children.
“I’m really proud that I took part in and finished the marathon. The number of people who have completed the London Marathon is still a fairly exclusive club, and my medal will always remind me of what I did and why I did it. I’ve had so much support; not only from my friends and family, but also from everyone at Aylesworth Fleming and OLIVER, including the Oliver & Learn team. People have been so generous in their sponsorship and I’m really pleased that I finished in a respectable time. To know that we’ve managed to raise so much money for such a good cause is a really fantastic feeling, and I’m looking forward to finding out how these funds will help Friends of Kianjai Kenya.”
From everyone at Aylesworth Fleming and OLIVER – well done Chris and thank you for helping us to raise funds for our charity partner; it’ll go a long way in helping Kenya’s disabled children.
Want to donate?
You can still donate to Chris’s marathon fund until Tuesday 23 May. If you would like to add to Chris’s total so far, please visit his Virgin MoneyGiving page:
Make a difference
Each year, Oliver & Learn sponsors students from 11 schools in the rural Kianjai area of Kenya. We help to pay for school fees, books and uniforms – all of the vital things that keep these secondary students in school. Many of these students are orphans. Without this support, they would have to drop out of school and work in subsistence jobs to survive. School fees are only £135 per year, but to many, this is simply unaffordable.
Help Winifred set up her business
We’ve helped students like Winifred set up a business on graduating, by providing them with the tools of their trade. This donation of a sewing machine or plumbing equipment can make a huge difference, whether it’s to young people just starting out in their working lives, or to their family.
Help the community improve their farming techniques
The Kianjai region is subject to regular droughts. This has a disasterous impact on the local community. To improve drought resiliency, a community teaching farm is being developed. The farm will teach techniques for selecting and planting drought resistant crops and encourage the community to develop greater yeilding crops.