Why? A marathon story
By: Hannah Cross-Phillipson

I ran the marathon.

I put one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles. My friends and family thought I was mad and quite openly doubted that I would be able to complete it. The most common response I heard after telling people what I was doing was… WHY?

I signed up five months ago, after one too many glasses of wine. At that point I could only run 4 miles and before that I had run the odd 5k but that was as extreme as it had got. But the answer to why? is that at the beginning I simply wanted to.

The first couple of months training was enjoyable, I loved the freedom of running. I could feel my body getting stronger and I was improving fast. But then the miles built up and the nights drew in. Fitting in 6 hours of running a week alongside work, travel and life’s general antics started to drain me. There were nights when it was the last thing I wanted to do and mornings when my legs felt like lead. At this point my why? began to change.

I realised something. When I signed up for the marathon it felt almost on a whim, but now I was proving something much bigger to myself. No one was pushing me out the door when I would much rather sleep but myself. I had found my own personal motivation, my own marathon story.

The fact is that throughout my childhood and teens I suffered with severe health issues and spent months at a time bed bound, this marathon was me proving to myself that my body is strong and giving me back an element of control that had been taken away from me. Suddenly this marathon was no longer simply about running. It became a personal journey that resonates with something deep inside me. This gave me a drive and a steely determination that I couldn’t argue with. This why? became my energy - it made me run. On
the last few miles of the marathon, I realised that this is my marathon story. I have to admit that I was shocked, but proud, I have learnt a lot about myself and about motivation through running the marathon.

This got me thinking about why other non-runners like myself would put themselves through such an extreme experience. It is never just ‘because’… We are all guilty of these kind of answers for easy pub conversations, and often believe it ourselves. But what about the real reasons? What creates true grit and determination? The marathon is a web of stories depicting human nature and highlighting the power of motivation.

On race day my heart swelled with pride and respect for each person racing. I felt honoured to be stood among 6000+ heroes and heroines. I found myself thinking that people are quite simply awesome. Every single person I saw that day had their own reason to be standing behind that starting line. Their own unique marathon story. From the runners who were giving everything they had to get to the finish line, to the elite who have spent years preparing for the sub 3 hour time.

And it was not only the runners who showed the power of people that day, it was the supporters who cheered everyone on, the families who lined village streets handing out jelly babies and creating anthems using pots and pans, the bands who came out to motivate and the organisers and volunteers who kept us safe and sane. That day I learnt that with the right support and motivation there really is nothing people can not do.

I left with an urge to push myself further, experience more things and try new challenges. Alongside a persistent curiosity about the power of motivation. Every person I saw that day exhibited true People Activation.

So I wonder … What would make you run?

Categories: Culture