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Team Jesuit Missions marathon runner Samantha Aidoo: “For me it’s about the challenge”

  • 8 March 2017

Sam Aidoo (right) is Jesuit Missions’ Education for Justice Coordinator and member of team Jesuit Missions for the 2017 London Marathon. To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day and its call to #BeBoldForChange, Sam tells us about her motivation for running, finding her body’s natural rhythm and cartwheeling across the finish line.

Thousands of runners have been sharing their own #ReasonsToRun the London Marathon. What’s motivating your decision to run 26 miles with 40,000 strangers?

In the two years I’ve been at Jesuit Missions, I’ve seen how effectively the organisation works with poor and marginalised people. About 85% of my motivation for running is to help bring funds to the projects Jesuit Missions is working on, these remarkable grassroots initiatives that are changing lives around the world.

The other 15% is about the struggle. I’m really interested in the challenge: of hitting the wall and not knowing if you’re going to make it through! It would be a really positive experience to get to the point where you say to yourself ‘I’m not sure if I can keep going any more’ but to find something within yourself to carry on.

I’ve seen this in so many people over the years, people from all walks of life, from 80-year-old women to 18-year-old boys to people in rhino costumes. What’s motivating people to do this horrible thing? What is it in their mental structure that is allowing them to do this? I am fascinated to go through this process myself.

How do you push yourself to train when it’s freezing cold and rainy?

I find running seriously difficult. All I can think about is the physical pain, the boredom and the exhaustion!

But I love exploring. I’ve been running a lot in London and even though I’ve lived in the city my whole life I’ve seen things I’d not seen before: all the cool graffiti along Regent’s Canal, new cafes, winding backstreets.  A few weeks ago, my training even took me through the Californian countryside.

And running is an amazing form of meditation. I follow a breathing pattern that really helps me focus on the moment, create a biological and physical rhythm and understand more about how my body works.

Sam shares her marathon motivations

On marathon day, how fiercely will you be racing the people around you?

In the races I’ve entered so far I’ve been running with a friend and we’ve kept our own pace. But then you start to get lapped by the elite runners. I’m a pretty competitive person and this gets to me! I know on race day that I’ll need to shut that out and keep in my own race.

But I definitely won’t shut out the atmosphere. Training has been so solitary and I can’t wait to get among the crowds, the music and all the different scenes around London.

What’s the first thing you’ll do after crossing the finish line?

I’ll try not to cry. Hopefully I’ll be on my feet with a smile on my face. I might do something manic like a cartwheel if people will sponsor me for it!

This year, your donations to team Jesuit Missions will fund our education projects with Jesuit Refugee Service in South Sudan, ensuring children and adults whose lives have been devastated by conflict have safe spaces to learn and grow.

To support Sam as she cartwheels to victory in the London Marathon, visit her Virgin Money Giving page.