London Marathon 2015: Our experience.

Our journey to complete a grueling 26.2 miles for Meningitis Now.

By Sarah Scott1st May 2015

Last weekend we took to the big city of London to endure the 26.2 miles that make up the infamous London Marathon!

It was a long time coming with our initial conversations on the subject happening last June. During this time we have had late nights baking, lunch times car washing and several visits to physiotherapists and sports masseuses. All of this on top of the website to accompany our campaign… oh and the training! The support from our Sequence colleagues has been amazing and we can’t thank everyone who sponsored and helped us enough.

The team (Richard Baker, Matt O'Keefe, Nadhim Orfali, Richard Shearman, Mohamed Hashish and Lloyd Wheeler) and I (Sarah Scott) would like to share our experiences with you.

Matt on the training.

“After training six days a week for 4 months without injury I knew I was as prepared as I could be. My plan was to run at 6:40/mile average with a negative split - starting slower and picking up the pace in the second half. On the day this worked out perfectly, I spent the whole race passing people who'd set off too quickly and couldn't maintain their pace. I crossed the line in 2:55:34, well under my 3-hour goal and good enough to qualify to do it all again next year!”

Matt, though, was probably our most decorated runner. Our team, comprised of a healthy mix of creatives from the Sequence office, weren’t all that experienced. The majority of the team were beginners when it came to long-distance and endurance running. Naturally, with a new newly acquainted training regime came some casualties.

 

Richard S. on managing injury.

“I had a nightmare with injuries. Since I started running again in October, when we found out that we’d got our places to run for Meningitis Now, I only managed two fortnights or proper training before Christmas, and then one month in February. I suffered a calf tear (twice in the same leg), a sore achilles, and (the final nail in my chances of running my target time) patella tendonitis. My knee was bad, the last proper run I did before London resulted in me being rescued in an ambulance after 15 miles when I couldn’t stand up.

“After I hurt my knee I decided that my plan for the marathon would be to walk it and hope for the best. I thought that with 6 weeks complete rest I should be able to have a go at making it round – I was never going to pull out having watched it on TV for 35 years. 1 week before the race, I put my trainers on again and accompanied my lads on Junior Parkrun (a fantastic event for 4-14 year-olds). I ran 2km and my knee didn’t hurt!”

For the novice runners, it was clear that a few months of training wasn’t going to automatically qualify us for an esteemed finish. Just as any endurance event, a strategy needed to be put in place that focused on our runners' strengths and protected their weaknesses. This is how all of us were to finish the marathon.

Nad on running strategy.

“I formulated a plan alongside Richard S. that would involve us walk and run from the start to try and protect ourselves from injury. After researching this, we agreed on a run 5 minutes/walk 2 minutes approach from the start. I programmed my watch to display these intervals so that we would know when to start and stop running.

“Come race day, we started right at the back of the field, and after 35 minutes of walking we crossed the start line. We kept to our plan until the 16-mile mark, when the lack of training and my slipped disc started to cause problems. We decided to change tactics and ran 2 minutes/walked 5 minutes until the end. We had enough energy left to zoom the last 400 meters and soak up the atmosphere before crossing the line together.”

But what mustn't be forgotten is the whole purpose of this exercise. Nad was struck with meningitis as a boy. With the right support framework, Nad was able to recover. Sadly, not all meningitis victims recover. This this in mind, we identified that we could make a difference to help the children who are in the same position as Nad was.

Richard B. on Meningitis Now.

“We talked about doing something for charity. And what better than finding a charity that related to the company or the people that work within the company? Nad has been with us around 5 years and has invested a lot in Sequence. So the charity directly relates to us as Nad suffered with Meningitis as a child. Knowing this, it does give you the extra mile, which was greatly received when we were faced with 26 of them! It’s very personal to me and Sequence.”

With the motivation there, a framework needed to be in place that could support our awareness activities and fundraising progress. We built a website that was to do just this. The site was very important in telling the story of why we chose to support Meningitis Now. And to help reach a wider audience through our special mention on Awwwards , for example. This is a website that is currently being updated and used as a memento for our journey and a thank you note to everyone who’s supported.

With all the hard work, it all came down to Sunday...

Sarah on the day.

“The marathon day itself is one that I will remember forever which is strange as it’s also a bit of a blur! We arranged to meet at 8.30 in the reception of our hotel and three trains and a mile walk later we had arrived with thousands of others at the red start line. After dropping our bags and several trips to the toilet we were off to our separate start pens. The atmosphere around the course was simply amazing, most of us had our names on the front of our Meningitis Now t-shirts and the amount of people shouting our names and encouraging us made the world of difference.

“Every member of the team made it to the finish line where we were greeted by saviours in Meningitis Now t-shirts. They whisked us off in cars to a wonderful reception where we all were able to shower, have a massage and refuel on a buffet. Here we met our family and friends and had lots of celebratory photos taken. Needless to say, we were all exhausted and the visions of 10 pints each were soon put to bed. As we headed back to the hotel with medals around our necks I couldn't be prouder of what we had all achieved. Until next year…”

Final words from Nad...

“On behalf of myself and Sequence Runners, thank so much to everyone who not only donated cash but also time, cakes, and effort. I am humbled and in awe of everyone involved - donations from as far as Canada, USA, France, a park in Scotland, a coffee morning in a village, national & local shops donating goods, enthusiasm displayed by everyone.”

We might have ran 26.2 miles and showed courage within this endurance run. But without the support and donations it wouldn't have been a successful run. The money raised will make a huge difference to our chosen charity Meningitis Now, and for that we are truly happy.

Thank you for your support!

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