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BackCare runners are ready for the off! The 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon, taking place on 22 April, will showcase the extraordinary stories of its runners, volunteers and supporters. RUNNING the Marathon is so often described as a life-changing experience and the camaraderie and excitement felt by the participants and the hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the streets epitomises the “Spirit of London” theme of this year’s event. Each runner has their own reasons for running, whether it’s aiming for a time, beating the odds after illness or injury or achieving weight loss, at the same time raising money for the charity or cause that’s close to their hearts. This is the motivation that gets them through the cold, hard months of training. Once again, BackCare is strongly represented by its supporters and fundraisers. TalkBack looks at some of their stories…

following many years of service in the NHS. Running has major health benefits, many of which I benefit from personally.”

Kevin Gani “I started running when I signed up for a 5km in 2010. Completing my first race and crossing that finish line was life changing. I continued to run for general fitness before completing my first half marathon in 2014. Running became serious in 2016 when I secured a place to run a marathon and in the last two years, I have raised over £10k for BackCare, Cancer Research and Mind. “I recently qualified as a leader in running from English Athletics and now support others on a weekly basis. My charity place with BackCare is dedicated to my mother, who passed away in 2016 following a major illness in her lower back. Both my parents were nurses and frequently suffered with lower back pain

through running, meeting many good people and feeling positive and better about myself. So, through running, I would like to give something back, and help raise awareness and much needed funds for BackCare.”

Pratik Pradhan “Life has its ups and downs. I was going through some rough patches about five years ago. It was business as usual on the surface but the struggle inner self was getting tougher by the day. With some persuasion from friends, I took up running as a first step to bring some positivity to the situation. I joined my local park run and, have to admit, the first few runs were very tough. However, the sense of achievement crossing the finish line every time was incredible. Since then I have completed almost 150 park runs and numerous half marathons. “I have benefited greatly

Helen Prowse “Having had a discectomy with fusion for two separate herniated discs in my neck in both 2011 and 2014 and understanding the debilitating pain that can be caused by neck and back problems, I am very pleased to be running the London Marathon 2018 for BackCare and helping to support their cause.”

VITAL STATISTICS Course record men (2016) Eliud Kipchoge, KEN, 2:03:05

Alison Evans “I started running in January 2016. It was a New Year’s resolution to do something to get myself fitter and lose some weight, so I joined a local beginners group attending each week. I ran a few 5K races and park runs; then I joined another running club so I could run with people on two different nights. Later that year I ran my first 10K and then a half marathon and continued this pattern through 2017. “My dream to run the London Marathon is now becoming a reality with BackCare. A close friend has rods in her back and is very grateful for the care she has been given. I feel honoured to be running for this charity to help it to provide support and advice to those in need.”

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VITAL STATISTICS Course record women (2003) Paula Radcliffe, GBR, 2:15:25 (mixed race)

Miles Grinter

Wayne Goodlake

“I am really excited to be running for BackCare in this year’s London Marathon. Members of my family including myself have suffered from back issues in the past and it’s great to see a charity so focused in this area. I have completed several half marathons previously but I really think I can help raise a good sum of money by running the marathon. I think when you approach people for money, a marathon certainly has some gravitas.”

“Having run the London Marathon three times, my ultimate goal was always to run under 3hrs 30mins – my best and last run was 3hrs 43 mins. Having aged four years since then I will be delighted to break the four hours. “I have suffered with ankylosing spondylitis for many years (20 now I think) and have recently started some new treatment which has enabled me to get out running again and get my life back, with only minor discomfort and pain. With my other three runs I got by on massage and painkillers, so this time should be hopefully better for me. The biggest lift though will be having my three children and my Mum stationed around London to cheer me on.”

Warren Goodlake “I am 48 years young with two grown children and a brother Wayne who is my inspiration for my running. He is 47 and has ran London three times before and is also running for BackCare. He has backache and has to have pain-killing injections every eight weeks. I have been running for over a year and constantly push myself to new targets and Personal Bests. My partner Sam has the running bug too and just completed her first 10K. For me, running the London Marathon will be a huge achievement and I have set myself a target of 3 hours 45 minutes to complete it, I just hope I can control my excitement and finish the race too.”

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Gary Oakley “I started running in 2013 as I wanted to do something that didn’t involve me being in an office. My first race was the Bristol 10K in May 2013, it was really tough, but an amazing experience and got me hooked. For many months I ran on my own, and it was only when I plucked up the courage to speak to a group of people who met every Monday night, did I realise how rewarding running in a group was. Since joining Kingsway Runners, I have completed many 10Ks and several half-marathons, and as my confidence in

Image: © Virgin Money London Marathon

running grew, so did my desire to take on the daunting 26.2 mile adventure. “When the opportunity to run for BackCare came up, I knew this was my chance. In raising money for this fabulous charity, I can allow vital support to be provided to people like my father who has suffered back problems for many years.”

Chloe Smithers “After seeing a close friend suffer herniated discs and helping her through her rehabilitation period, I came to realise and understand how life changing neck/back injuries can be. When I decided to take part in the London Marathon 2018 with that same friend, I was delighted to support the fantastic work BackCare does and help raise awareness.”

VITAL STATISTICS Wheelchair record men (2009) Kurt Fearnley, AUS, 1:28:56

Keith Brighty “I will be running the Virgin London Marathon 2018 for the final time. This will be my 5th time at London, 13th overall and the end of my marathon career! I have chosen to raise money for the BackCare charity for whom I ran in 2007. “After suffering a serious back problem in 2006 and being hospitalised for two weeks with excruciating sciatic pain, I was operated on for a prolapsed disc in my lower back. BackCare was the obvious choice, as it offers advice and support for back pain sufferers throughout the UK with advice prevention and ways to alleviate back pain.”


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VITAL STATISTICS Wheelchair record women (2015) Tatyana McFadden, USA, 1:41:14

Andrea Daly “I’m 30 years old and work as a dental nurse in Caterham in Surrey. I’ve chosen to run the London Marathon for BackCare because of the excessive back problems myself and a vast number of dentists experience day to day, often resulting in early retirement. I believe it’s important to raise awareness of how troublesome back pain can be and what we can do to help reduce it.”

Antony Greensweig

runs I entered my first race, Bristol 10K, completing it in just under an hour. I was instantly hooked and continued to enter events, including Royal Parks half marathon, Great North Run and lots of other 10K races. In May 2017 I completed my first full marathon, in Edinburgh, in a time of 4:57. With Kingsway Runners, I was invited to become a leader 18 months ago. I chose to run for BackCare to support a small charity and raise its profile with my friends and colleagues. As an office-based worker I know that many days are lost each year to bad backs and necks and, to raise awareness as well as money for the cause makes me very happy.”

Amanda Preece

Eileen Grant

“I run in memory of my Dad who had dementia and passed away with dignity in 2015. I needed something to fill the void and the loss and, with my half century birthday approaching in 2016, I made the decision that I would learn to run. This challenge was huge for an overweight, unfit mum of four boys who needed a huge boost both physically and mentally. “So, I started my love/ hate relationship with a C25K podcast. I would swear at the voice in my ear telling me that I was doing great – it wasn’t great at all! I realised quickly that I needed help to achieve this mad challenge and joined my local running club, Kingsway Runners who have offered unconditional support and friendship. I soon mastered a 5K and gradually worked up to 10K and half marathon. Increasing my distance from 13.1 miles to 26.2 is daunting I will admit but I will cross that line even if I have to crawl over it. “I remember my Grandfather struggling with back pain, so much so that he would sleep on a board (the size of a door) under his mattress to give him some respite. I want to support BackCare in their endeavour to support all who suffer with pain or injury.”

“A full-time mother of three teenage children, I had previously worked for a large financial services firm and in various roles both at home and abroad. I love everything to do with the outdoors, hill walking, running, sailing and sampling the fine cuisine in my native Scotland. “In 2012, I suffered a large prolapsed disc which required back surgery. I know all too well both the physical and mental pain endured through such injury. For this reason, I am running in support of the national charity BackCare and hope to promote their message further.”

VITAL STATISTICS Total finishers (1981) 6,255 Total finishers (2016) 39,140

Jonathan Lee “I chose to run for BackCare for a couple of reasons, one being that my wife has suffered for many years with a bad back and on a regular basis needs to have physio, and struggles to walk. Also, I do a manual job and some heavy lifting and may well need care and treatment in later life. “I’m new to running – been training for approximately four months, run two to three times a week and my fitness has drastically improved. Just hope I don’t get injured before the big day.”

“I started running in early 2015, primarily to get fit and lose weight. Having done a few park

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Caroline Lowery

Lee Sessions “I completed my first half marathon in 2013. I have run several more since, but London 2018 represents my first marathon. Having always been employed in office-based roles, I am all too aware of the back and neck problems that occur from being sedentary for prolonged periods. When the opportunity came up to run as part of the team for BackCare, I saw it as an opportunity to give something back to family, friends and work colleagues who have struggled with back and neck problems.”

VITAL STATISTICS Oldest finisher (men) Fauja Singh 2004 (93)

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“I only started running in June 2016 when a new local running group opened up, the Sowerby Bridge Snails. The Snails are why I have decided I am ready to do this challenge. When two others completed it last year I sat watching in bed with my hot coffee thinking – I want to do that one day. “From that moment on I set about making it happen. It hasn’t been easy as a full time high school teacher and mum of two under-8s – the runs are often long and lonely, but I have my fellow Snails and family right behind me. My longer runs are normally completed the first half on my own and then meet a fellow Snail enroute to complete. It’s like two runs in one and gives me the motivation to keep going. “I have chosen to run for BackCare as I know a number of people who struggle with back complaints, including my mother-in-law and a close colleague.”

Paul Jones “I run for BackCare because when I was younger, I suffered from a bad back and was told regular exercise would be beneficial. In 2010, I completed my first marathon. Today, I have completed 15 marathons including London, Boston, Chicago and New York.”

found myself inspired by the people there to compete in some races. I completed my first half marathon in October 2016 and followed that with the Manchester marathon in April 2017. “I chose to run the London marathon for BackCare so that I could support this relatively small charity that provides fantastic support and advice for people that suffer from back pain (my sister-in-law being one of them).”

Bernadette McInnes Adam Gresty “After a few years of being pretty inactive, I decided to take up running in 2016 to try and regain some fitness. I joined a local running club (Kingsway Runners) and soon

“I used to weigh a hefty 17+ stone, running was not something I participated in, come to think of it exercise wasn’t something I participated in! I suffered with a series of issues that comes from carrying extra weight, and back


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pain was just one of them. At the age of 30 I gave birth to my daughter, she changed my life, from that moment on all that mattered was me being the best possible version of myself for her. “I didn’t have the confidence to hit a gym given my size so instead I bought some trainers and hit the streets. I lost 7 stone in 10 months through healthy eating, running and daily exercise. My first 10K was June 2017 in Enniskillen NI, and the buzz of running with others and the sense of achievement crossing the finish line was exhilarating. “From then I was hooked – over the next six months, I went on to complete a series of 10Ks, a 12-mile Tough Mudder and two half marathons each time besting myself. To run a marathon, a full 26.2 mile marathon, will be the ultimate accomplishment for me and to achieve it knowing I’ll have raised money for such an admirable cause will make every mile worth it.”

Images: © Virgin Money London Marathon

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VITAL STATISTICS Oldest finisher (women) Jenny Wood-Allen 2002 (90)

George Gavriel “As a GP I see the impact back conditions have on people every day. This includes the obvious pain and immobility but also the impact on mental health and on day to day life. “BackCare is important to me as I suffered a prolapsed disc myself in 2007. I needed

to take daily painkillers and the subsequent reduced activity made the condition even worse. I was lucky that my condition could be treated with surgery in 2009 and since then running regularly has allowed me to regain my fitness and I am now free from pain.”

www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com www.backcare.org.uk

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RECORD BIDS This year, around 50 runners will be going for Guinness World Records. A gingerbread man, a strawberry, Minnie Mouse and a horse drawn carriage carrying a queen will be making their way from Blackheath to The Mall. You might also spot Batman and Robin locked together in one costume, a lobster, a telephone box, at least two nuns, a pair of monks and a handful of chefs.

BackCare – our London Marathon 2018 runners  

The London Marathon, on 22 April, will showcase the stories of BackCare's runners...

BackCare – our London Marathon 2018 runners  

The London Marathon, on 22 April, will showcase the stories of BackCare's runners...