Darren joined our fundraising family back in October last year and has been fiercely training and raising funds ever since. He took on the London Marathon in April and has just completed the Swansea Half. But he doesn't want to stop there, he's got plenty more planned to keep up the running bug! We'll let him do the talking...

I did it!

It was certainly one of the toughest days of my life, but I finished the London Marathon. Unfortunately, it didn't quite work out the way I planned on the day and I finished in 4:58:20, almost an hour slower than my training suggested was possible.

It took me a good few minutes to compose myself for the finisher's photo with my medal, and while I managed to get myself to smile (I had just run 26.2 miles), it was very much forced. When I finally found my friends, I burst into tears. Don't let anyone ever say running a marathon isn't emotional. Those metres after the finish line are filled with every emotion you can muster. Joy at finishing, anger at not doing better, disappointment in the times you slowed down, guilt for everyone you think you have let down.

Facing your hurdles

Of course, none of that is really true. It’s an amazing feat to just complete a marathon, let alone how fast you do it. Obviously I was running for United Response and hoping to raise £1,500, but didn’t quite make it just yet. Undeterred, I’m still working towards that target and it’s great that United Response have been so understanding, so the work goes on.

Many people will tell you that it’s how you deal with these disappointments and obstacles that define who you really are as a person. After a week of battling my own anxieties over my marathon result I realised that I had a great opportunity ahead of me. Running has been a great positive for my mental health in a period where I’ve been unemployed and facing the prospect of leaving London, studying for my Master’s degree, sitting exams, and muddling through the challenges this throws up. So I decided to keep running.

Challenges ahead

I plan to build my fundraising through an event that I had to postpone in the run up to the marathon, as well as more running (yes, I accept it. I’ve got the bug and I’m a glutton for punishment).

So on Sunday just gone, I ran the Swansea Half Marathon. I set myself a challenge of finishing it in between 1h45m and 1h50m. A very specific time, but one I thought was achievable and matched what I was hoping to do pace-wise for the marathon.

And here I am. I finished and I’m smiling a lot more than after the London Marathon. My time? 1:46:37. I hit my target and I know I’ve got a platform to build on. Next up I’m deciding between the Bristol Half and the Royal Parks Half in London. All the way through, I’ll still be promoting my fundraising page, and looking to host events.

And the long term plan is to have another crack at a marathon. Maybe London, my name is in the ballot. But who knows! It’s all for a good cause, but along the way, I’ve certainly reaped a huge number of personal benefits too.

Please help me reach my target by donating to a good cause; United Response.

Sponsor me

- Darren