#RunningForAmy: Lisa's marathon adventure

In summer 2016, Lisa Richardson made the monumental decision to take on the London Marathon in aid of her best friend Amy, who has terminal cancer. This is their story in her own words.

Lisa and Amy

In May 2016, I made a decision that I didn't realise was going to change my life. My overweight and unfit self - fuelled by a glass or two of wine I must admit - decided to apply for a charity place to run the London Marathon.

I considered which charity I wanted to support; it had to be important and relevant to me and it definitely had to be local. Sue Ryder, our local hospice, was my immediate thought so I filled in my application and hit 'send' before I could change my mind.

I didn't tell a soul, but that very next day I slapped on my new Fitbit and commenced my diet, just in case my application was successful... Two months later, I received a call from a lady who would come to mean a great deal to me over the following nine months; Holly, our #TeamIncredible captain, was super excited to offer me my place on the Sue Ryder 2017 London Marathon team - and so it began!

From my couch to the big day

I worked out training plans: Couch to 5K, Couch to 10K and the 20-week marathon plan, thinking I had plenty of time to prepare... I nearly fell off my chair when I realised I had to start training the very next week! And so I did.

On Sunday 23rd April 2017, with 645 miles of training runs (stretching almost from Cheltenham to Berlin!) and a 8.5-stone weight loss behind me, I set off for London to take my place on the start line for Sue Ryder, knowing that I couldn't have done anything more to prepare myself for the big day.

On a warmer than expected day, I staggered round in 6 hours 19 minutes 49 seconds and, to date, we have raised an astonishing £7,380 for Leckhampton Court Hospice.

My motivation: Amy

My motivation for signing up was my bestest bestie ever, Amy, and her diagnosis of terminal ovarian cancer.

My reasons for signing up were deeply personal to our friendship, and my own way of acknowledging how difficult it is for Amy, day in day out, living with her diagnosis - with emphasis on the living and not letting her diagnosis define her. All I had to do was go out and run four, sometimes five, days a week; Amy keeps going every single day, which she does with a steely determination in her own indomitable style and great humour.

Amy has always been a strong supporter of charities: she has walked the Great Wall in China, been to Machu Picchu in Peru (with yours truly in tow - ask either of us about the infamous ‘wind-up torch incident’ if you fancy a good laugh), walked her own marathon across the hills of Cheltenham, and undertaken the Cheltenham half marathon whilst on chemo following major surgery.

Although we had never discussed it, I knew Amy would be doing more charity challenges if she were able, so my London Marathon was in fact our joint London Marathon.

Amy was the driving force of our fundraising; initially Chief Fundraiser but promoted to Campaign Manager when it became apparent her fundraising ideas and efforts were setting us down a path of raising such a huge amount of money. Many an hour during weekly chemo sessions was spent organising and planning!

I simply couldn't have done it without her, and her wise words of "Just go out and do it" kept me going when the training was getting so very tough.

Why am I doing it again?

Post-race, Holly tweeted that she’d had "a very strong no" from me when asked if I would do it again, and at the time, believe me, I meant it! Less than a week later, however, I had completely changed my mind; I was disappointed that I’d walked more than I had wanted to during the race and conscious that I had been so devastated that Amy had been too unwell to come to the race, having been admitted to hospital three days prior to the big day.

I wanted to apply to be part of #TeamIncredible's London Marathon team again - and this time I wanted to run every single step. The Sue Ryder team had been so supportive, fun and fantastic during my 2017 training, and meeting Holly and James in London was as emotional as I imagined it would be (and I'm doubly sad to hear Holly's now moved on to another charity).

Knowing that every single penny we raised was going to Hayley - who had kept me going during many a run in the midst of winter with a witty tweet - and the fab team at Leckhampton Court, I realised I wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the Sue Ryder family yet.

A life-changing experience

I’m still overwhelmed by all the support I’ve received and the astonishing amount of money we’ve raised; everyone has been so very generous with their donations, sponsorship, time, support and help.

It’s clear that Leckhampton Court and Sue Ryder are very important to many of our supporters and it is a wonderful charity with such strong local links that really does make a difference – I know so because I’ve heard so many touching and inspiring stories from patients, relatives and medical professionals.

Being part of #TeamIncredible has been a life-changing experience for me and I’ve met so many fantastic members of the team who are truly incredible themselves. Continuing to support Sue Ryder and entering the London Marathon again in 2018 is a fantastically exciting and motivating opportunity, and I’ll run because #shemademedoitagain.

I apply acknowledging there’s a possibility Amy may not be there to see it, but I know that she’ll be with me in my heart every single step of the way.

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Lisa with her London Marathon medal

London Marathon runner

Lisa Richardson