As the 2022 running season kicks off, we spoke to runner and longtime Children on the Edge supporter Tony Aburrow.
Tony has run the Chichester Half Marathon twice for Children on the Edge and in 2021, he fulfilled a bucket list challenge by taking part in the London Marathon. He told us all about his motivation to run, his London Marathon experience and why he would recommend running for Children on the Edge.
You’ve done the Chichester Half for Children on the Edge twice before, what inspired you to take on the London Marathon too?
The first time I did the Chi half, I wanted to raise money for a children’s charity and found that Children on the Edge were the affiliated charity for the event that year. So, it seemed like fate to run for Children on the Edge; especially after reading more about the brilliant work they do.
Completing the two halfs gave me the confidence to take on a full, but I knew it would mean a lot more training. I applied to run the London Marathon for Children on the Edge as I hoped it would keep me motivated and determined to stay on track and get to the start line in good shape – and thankfully, that turned out to be true!
When Children on the Edge told me I got the place, it became very real, very quickly, and I was deeply grateful for the opportunity – thousands of runners try and fail to gain a place, so I knew Children on the Edge were honouring me with a unique opportunity and I wanted to show my gratitude by doing them proud.
Tell us about marathon day, how did you feel?
I started by eating a lot of porridge and bagels (with peanut butter and Nutella) along with lots of other runners at the hotel. I chatted to a lovely woman and told her about Children on the Edge – she told me to “think of those kids” when it got tough which stuck with me and really spurred me on in the tough moments later in the day.
On the walk down and at the start wave you really start to soak up the event day atmosphere and everything becomes simultaneously real and unreal. The crowd and the vibe was an insane trip of positivity right from the off and the first challenge was not to zoom off too fast! The first half pretty much passed me by without clocking the mileage, just enjoying the locals cheering us all on and sharing the shared spirit with the runners.
Around 19ish miles I discovered ‘the wall’ is definitely a thing… My energy and pace seemed to evaporate, it became a case of staying completely present and my goal became to just keep running, thinking if I stopped or walked, it would be impossible to get going again. I slogged out the last sevenish miles like that. I also saw my wife and daughter at mile 23, gave them a quick hug and moved swiftly on before it got too emotional!
Then I hit the mall, saw the end in sight, passed a rhino, and made it to the line at 4:34:27, very emotional and a little bewildered. A nice lady put my medal over my head, and I slumped on her shoulder and cried. She gave me a lovely ‘mum hug’ and I was on my way. I found my wife and daughter, hugged them a lot and then proceeded to go eat a massive burger and a well-earned beer.
The whole day was utterly brilliant and despite thinking “never again” at mile 22, I would now love to try another marathon one day and hopefully raise some more funds for a wonderful cause like Children on the Edge.
I also organised a raffle, I contacted or just walked into lots of local businesses and places I like to go and told them about my marathon and Children on the Edge and almost every one of them was happy to provide a prize.
Prizes ranged from golf sessions and horse racing tickets, to hair treatments, photography, a vineyard tour, cinema tickets and coffee vouchers – the awesome list of prizes made it easy to sell tickets and I made £530 from raffle tickets alone.
My sister, an account manager for Henning’s Wine, also got involved and arranged a wine tasting night and game evening at Henning’s in Pulborough. It was great fun and helped to add a generous amount to my fundraising.
£2,000 did seem a daunting task at the start but the steady flow of donations, the events, a flurry of donations close to race-day, and my lovely Mum sponsoring each month throughout training, helped me smash the target and raise £2,670 for Children on the Edge!
What would you say to someone else thinking about fundraising for Children on the Edge?
Do it! The message that Children on the Edge are giving a childhood back to kids who have had theirs robbed is powerful and people will want to help.
Annie from the Fundraising team kindly gave me a list showing ‘what your money can do’ which was great and showed how popping £20 on a JustGiving page could be a small thing for lots of us but makes a meaningful, immediate impact on the ground for the amazing work that Children on the Edge do.
Running for a cause close to your heart also gets you through the training. Being able to ‘run for a reason’ gets you out when you’re not feeling it, or the weather is rubbish and pushes you when it matters on the day.
Undoubtedly one of the best things I’ve ever done or will ever do. Thank you, Children on the Edge.