In the January Edition of our e-Newsletter, we offered some useful fundraising tips and shared some inspiring stories of people who have raised money for us in the past. Building on this theme, today I’ll provide a personal insight into a common method of fundraising: the running event.


Runners at the London Marathon crossing Tower Bridge.

Running an event is one of the most popular ways of raising money in the UK. According to research by the Charities Aid Foundation, over 9 million people in the UK have raised money for charity by taking part in a running event. The most popular events are fun runs, 5k, 10k and half marathons, while 12% of fundraisers have completed a marathon. The average amount raised is £442 per fundraiser, with high profile events raking in enormous sums for good causes; the London Marathon has raised £830M since its inception in 1981!


With my sights set on the 2018 Paris Marathon on the 8th of April, I’m once again joining that illustrious 12% of runners who are crazy enough to put their bodies through 26.2 miles (42.2km) of chafing, cramp and knee pain. In case this looks like something for you (!), I’ll briefly share my training programme, and talk a bit about our project in Sierra Leone which I’m raising money for.


 Runners at the Paris Marathon, passing the 30km mark.

The training regime which I’m using to prepare for Paris is broadly similar to the one I used for my first marathon – Edinburgh in May 2016 – and lasts 16 weeks. The weekly schedule goes something like this: a long run (15 – 30k) on Sunday; 30 – 45 mins on the cross-trainer or bike on Monday; a hilly 8k on Tuesday; high intensity interval training on Wednesday; a slow 10 – 15k on Thursday; rest day on Friday; and an 8 or 10k on Saturday.


If that sounds like a major commitment in both time and effort… then that’s because it is. Unlike a 5k or 10k, or even a half marathon, where many people can skive much of their training programme and still complete their event with relative ease, the marathon is punishing for those who have skimped on their training. I found this out the hard way during my first marathon, when nights out in my first year of University took priority over training, leading to an unpleasant race day where cramp caused me to limp for the last 8 miles or so. This weekly programme starts off being relatively easy and becomes progressively more strenuous as race day nears.


Reigate Half Marathon 2014: Yes, I really did look this tired after just a half marathon!

Finding a great cause to raise money for is a key component of preparing for a marathon – and the project I’m supporting is just that. Founded in 2015, the Kids Kitchen project in Freetown, Sierra Leone currently provides 230 schoolchildren at the We Are the Future (WAF) School with a healthy, nutritious meal every day. With Sierra Leone’s economy struggling after the devastation of the civil war in the 1990s and the Ebola epidemic in 2014-15, large swathes of the population remain malnourished, which leaves children vulnerable to impaired development and health problems.


Lunchtime at We Are the Future School, Sierra Leone.

Our project has made an enormous difference to the lives of the children we’ve helped, and for a relatively small outlay (during the course of the project the cost of feeding a child at WAF is just £2.28 per week); in fact, the project has been so successful that we’re looking to expand it to two nearby schools. When I consider the difficulties that our beneficiaries encounter every single day, it really puts my complaints about the training into perspective. 

In conclusion, training for and completing a marathon has its ups and downs. The training sessions on a cold, wet Tuesday night, seeing a well laid training programme derailed by injury, and those brutal, last few miles of the marathon are certainly some of the low points. By contrast, taking on the challenge with a couple of mates, the feeling you get when you’ve completed it, and perhaps most of all, raising money for a great cause, are what ultimately makes the challenge worthwhile.

There’s a saying that no-one does two marathons. Either you do one, and decide it’s not for you, or you get hooked by the feeling you get as you cross the finish line, and you end up doing many more. I’m definitely one of the latter.

If you'd like to sponsor me, visit my fundraising page

Jonny Hellman is the Communications Intern at Bread and Water for Africa UK.