London Marathon 2017

Chris is running the London Marathon for 5 a-side….

OLIVER & LEARN_Chris Mardo – London Marathon

Interview with Chris Mardo – w/c 10.04.2017



Chris Mardo, Head of Digital Project Management at Aylesworth Fleming in Bournemouth, is an amateur long distance runner. On Sunday 23 April he’ll be taking part in the Virgin Money London Marathon, running for Oliver & Learn in support of our charity partner, Friends of Kianjai Kenya. We spoke to Chris this week to find out more about his motivation for running, why weather is more important than you’d think and why he’s supporting our charitable foundation.



What made you want to get involved in long distance running?

“I did 15 years of Tae Kwon Do and wanted a real change. I’d built up a good level of fitness from that, so about three years ago I decided to enter a 10k run. This was completely different to anything I’d done before, so it was a real motivator to get out and start doing some proper training. The distance felt massive at the time, and I could hardly do it without stopping for a walk half-way through! Slowly though I started to notice the improvement I was making, and that was a really good feeling.


I’ve tried to get out running at least four times a week since Christmas, knowing then that taking part in the marathon was a personal goal of mine for the year. It’s been tough on a few occasions to dedicate the time as life can sometimes get in the way, but I try and stick to my three mid-week and weekend runs as much as possible.”



Running come rain or shine

The weather might now be making a slow improvement, but the variety of sun, showers, cold temperatures and high winds aren’t things that concern Chris in his preparations. In fact, they’re all part of his training.


“I’m a fairly confident runner now, and weather conditions have certainly helped. I think it’s important to run in all weathers. April can be a strange month weather-wise, so I have no idea what it’ll be doing on marathon day. It could be cold and wet, or warm and dry, so I don’t want to turn up on the day having only been a ‘fair weather’ runner. If you’ve survived a run in wet and windy conditions, you’re able to cope with pretty much any weather. It’s also a good mental discipline. Quite a few times I’ve peered out of the window at work and seen the rain lashing down and thought ‘No… I’m going to give it a miss today’, but I’ve never actually not run due to the weather. And no matter how good or bad the conditions have been, I always feel better after I’ve finished my run.”



Supporting Oliver & Learn

We know that many of our colleagues around the group have preferred charities they support. But for Chris, being able to run in support of the Oliver group’s charitable foundation is something he’s been keen to do.


“So much great work is done thanks to Oliver & Learn, and I wanted to contribute to this. From speaking to the O&L team, I found out that disability amongst children in Kenya is more common than you think. And that it’s a subject that’s been avoided in Kenya for a long time too. Did you know that? Imagine a child living with a disability who is then shunned and isolated by their own community, based purely on their disability…it’s not a concept we’re used to or comfortable with in the UK.


Of course, raising awareness of children with disabilities is vital – even more so when they face potential rejection by their communities. But what can make a real difference is actually doing something that’s practical. And with a bit of fun thrown in. So, from a chat with our charity partners – Friends of Kianjai Kenya – the O&L team found out that while football is hugely popular in Kenya, disability sport is very rare. They also found out that there’s a planned football tournament due to take place in early 2018, so we thought this would be a brilliant opportunity for us to enter into the team spirit and help our partners set up two special needs 5-a-side football teams to promote disability sport, supply footballs, bibs and some training sessions. And, importantly, it’ll help to gently educate the wider community about disability too.


What we’re going to do isn’t a huge task, and we want it to be fun and educational. We might not be able to take away any of the daily issues these children face, but your donations will help every one of my 26.2 miles on Sunday 23 April another step closer to making the lives of Kenya’s disabled children a little easier. And, hopefully, a lot more fun.”



If you would like to sponsor Chris, please visit his dedicated Virgin Money Giving page.

And don’t forget; it’s your donations that will help make all of this happen.


NEXT WEEK: Chris tells us more about his training plan ahead of the London Marathon and his advice for any budding runners out there.