This year, United Response has 33 runners taking part in the London Marathon. One of which is our very own Gary Biddlecombe, Service Manager in Ripon. With almost three months to go we find out how he’s getting on…

What was your inspiration for taking on the London Marathon?

Last year I was turning 40 and was 18st – midlife hits you and something needs to be done. I had just started running when I saw your advert for the London Marathon and I wanted to give it a go. Since I started training I’ve lost 5 stone and I’m hoping to lose more before the marathon.

Gary before he began running and after his first 10k 

Is this your first time doing long distance running?

Yes, it’s really new to me! In November I completed my first 10k run and will be taking part in the Harewood House half marathon in Leeds on 8th February. As well as doing park runs every Saturday I’m hoping to fit in another 10k before the big day to make sure I’m used to running in crowds. I’m at the 15 mile mark in my training plan, so there is still a little way to go.

How is your training going?

I think I’m enjoying it but I can’t say it’s my favourite thing ever to do. You just have to get your running gear on and get out there. It can be hard to get going but it’s worth it, after a few miles it’s really enjoyable! I live in the Yorkshire dales which is a beautiful place to run. I wouldn’t say I’m a natural runner but I get that feel good factor once I’m on the go.

How have you found fundraising for United Response?

I was slightly more daunted by the fundraising than the running itself. Saying that I’ve raised almost £1,000 already! In December I sang at a local family festival with the vocal quartet I am part of - Mickle Mirth - and got some donations through that. Our local carol concert also put half of their proceeds towards my sponsorship after United Response was a clear winner in the charity vote. I’m also hoping to put on a bread-making workshop in March to raise some more money.

I’ve put my longer runs on Facebook to show sponsors my progress. I’ve been quite surprised by peoples generosity. There are people I hadn’t expected to give that have been really supportive with both money and words of encouragement. The whole experience is really positive!

Do you have any advice to anyone considering taking on a challenge for United Response?

Seek advice! Everyone will want to give you advice but make sure you find the right advice for you. Make sure you have a training plan designed at your level. Most importantly; you have nothing to lose!


Gary was talking to Sarah Riddlestone, fundraising assistant.

Why not follow Gary’s example and give yourself a challenge, get fit and lose weight in 2015! It’s just the push you’ve been looking for. We have lots of events to choose from – check out our events page and see which one takes your fancy! Why not take on the Brighton Marathon? Or if cycling is more your thing you could take on Ride London or even a mix of both in the London Duathlon. The world of challenge events is your oyster!

For more information on any of our events please call Sarah on 0208 879 4987 or email [email protected]