A.R. Clarke Funerals Undertaker Dan Gibson recently took part in the London Marathon 2019 and has raised over £3,000 for Leukaemia Care, an amazing charity helping those affected by blood cancer.
Here is Dan’s story.
As with a lot of people, cancer and its many forms has unfortunately made its presence felt in my life over the years. Affecting both friends and family alike, from losing a school friend to leukaemia, to the present day when my wife’s grandmother recently passed away having battled with this disease for a number of years. This is what made me decide to raise funds for Leukaemia Care and what better and challenging way to do so than to run the London Marathon.
After ten years of unsuccessful ballot applications, I decided to bite the bullet and buy (and secure) my place for 2019, meaning that I had to raise (at least) the £2,350 target which Leukaemia Care ask for, to ensure I could run in one of their Gold Bond places. Not only did I rely on sponsors for help I also had a few ‘side events’ taking place that helped me reach my target such as a work raffle and a football match with friends.
I received my acceptance for the 2019 London Marathon on Wednesday 25th April 2018, but sadly the following day my dad lost his battle with cancer, again this reiterated in my head the need to beat this illness, cancer, and the many forms it comes in.
Whilst running is a passion of mine and a big part of my life, marathon running isn’t, therefore I was under no illusion of the huge task that I faced.
I regularly run, both for fitness and competitively, specialising in 10km races where my performance is all about speed, high finishes and constantly beating my personal best, so by taking on 26.2 miles of the London Marathon I was way out of my comfort zone. I knew I would have to train in a new way and find a different way of running. The excitement far outweighed the fear, it felt wonderful to be able to run in this world famous marathon.
I knew that it would be a big challenge, with the extensive training and all that went with it right up until I stood on the start line. I knew this would take over my life but I didn’t need any more inspiration and reason than I already had to get me across the finish line on 28th April 2019.
The training was tough, having to fit in long runs around a busy work and family life and only weeks before the race I suffered an ankle injury. Only ten days before the event whilst trying to fit in one last run, my ankle was so painful that I had to abandon the run and walk back home. I was terrified this would destroy my hopes of completing and raising this money but I persevered and took part.
On the day, just before the marathon started in Greenwich Park, I smothered my ankle in Deep Heat, I then wasn’t sure if the pain I felt was the ankle or the Deep Heat burning me. I convinced myself it was the latter.
The atmosphere was amazing, weather conditions perfect and the marathon started at 10.00 am, with my pen crossing the start line just before 11:00 am. I started at a steady pace and took each mile as it came, enjoying the surroundings and feeling blessed to be running in such an amazing race.
After around 12 miles I crossed Tower Bridge and then the halfway mark still feeling relatively good, but Mile 14 came and I guess the Deep Heat wore off and the pain hit, but I had a challenge that I had to fulfil so with never forgetting the whole reason that I was there, and with mental strength kicking in, I persevered over the next 12 miles with the amazing crowd lining every inch of the streets cheering on over 40,000 of us runners, and I completed the London Marathon to collect my medal at the finish line.
It’s one of the greatest experiences and achievements of my life and I cannot thank those enough, being my family, friends, work colleagues and even complete strangers who sponsored me, believed in me and helped me reach my fundraising goal.