This year, United Response has 27 runners taking part in the London Marathon. In the build up to one of the most iconic marathons in the world we talk to one of our marathon runners, Melanie Marshman, who lost 6½ stone in an inspiring story of determination and willpower.

Describe to us how you lost such a lot of weight.

I started running in 2007 and at that point I was just over 17 stone. At first I found it difficult to lose the weight but the combination of a weight loss programme and regular running helped me. It meant I could still sometimes eat the things I liked, which weren’t necessarily healthy, and burn off the fat by running.

I started the weight loss programme back in May 2011 and by January 2013 I had lost 94lbs. I now weigh 10½ stone and feel great.

That’s incredible! What motivated you to reach this goal?

To be a better role model for my daughter and to change my way of life. It wasn’t just about getting a smaller jeans size.

Out of all the challenge events out there, what made you choose the London Marathon?

It’s always been something that I wanted to do. I used to watch it on TV as a teenager but never thought it would be possible for me to complete it. Then, one year I was in the crowd to watch my friend take part, and I started to think that I could take it on.

Have there been any runners who have helped inspire you?

Paula Radcliffe. Also, my friend lent me a book by the ultra-marathon runner Dean Karnazes which is really inspiring.

Training for a marathon must be a mammoth commitment. What’s it like?

It’s been quite hard but enjoyable. Training does take over your life and you have to sacrifice weekends and eat a lot.

In some ways it is quite a selfish pursuit as you have to be single-minded, but I couldn’t have done it without the support of my daughter and husband who have been really understanding of the fact that I haven’t been able to spend as much time with them as I would normally.

How’s your fundraising been going? Do you have any tips for those struggling to reach their target?

It’s been going well. So far I have raised £1,183. I would say keep asking people you know and be quite persistent as sometimes you will need to remind them to sponsor you. I post training updates on my Facebook page and that helps to jog people’s memories.

I also held a raffle at Christmas that was really popular. The smaller donations of £10 do add up surprisingly quickly.

Why are you fundraising for United Response in particular?

I found United Response through the charity runners clearing house (crunch) website. United Response seemed like the sort of charity I could get behind and genuinely support, and I really liked their ethos; for example, the way they centre support entirely on the individual. That kind of personal approach really impresses me.

How do you intend to celebrate when you cross the finish line? Do you have your own version of the Mo-bot?

Yes, it’s called the Mel-bot! My daughter thinks I am going to win the race! I will probably celebrate after the run with a hearty feast.

Melanie was talking to Mark Schuelerfundraising officer.

If you have been inspired by Melanie’s story and want to help improve the lives of people with disabilities and mental health needs, why not take on one of our challenge events, like the 2014 London Triathlon? You can also sponsor Melanie by visiting her Virgin Money Giving page.