The London Marathon is just over a month away and United Response’s team of runners are gearing up to take part in the epic race across the capital.

In a bid to raise funds ahead of the event, our runners have organised quiz nights, yoga sessions, make-up parties and bread-making workshops, baked cakes - anything they can think of! - in the hopes of raising almost £45,000 collectively to help support people with learning disabilities, physical disabilities and mental health needs.

But taking part in the race takes more than money, and participants have worked hard to ensure that they are physically prepared to take on the challenge.

"I feel brilliant; I've replaced smoking with training"

Nikki Cowen, 42, has been smoking since the age of 16 and, after previous failed attempts to quit, has managed to kick the habit and replace it with a training regime.

She told us, “I feel brilliant. I think I’ve replaced smoking with training and running, and, after a few months of it, I don’t even think about it anymore or have any urges to smoke.

“I can’t stand the smell now and food tastes a lot better; my family are really pleased.”

She's got your number! Help Nikki reach hers

Nikki and her colleague Georgina will be running the marathon together in 118 gear. They have had strong support from local businesses and this rallying of the local community has encouraged Nikki to take her running more seriously. She has three other road races planned in the coming year and hopes that the London Marathon is just the beginning.

Help Nikki raise much-needed funds by donating to her online fundraising page.

To find out more about fundraising opportunities for United Response, you can contact Sarah from the fundraising team on 0208 879 4987 or email [email protected]

Gemma Taylor, media assistant.