Thanks a billion
After being out on the course to support the marathon runners last year, Jesuit Missions Communications Officer, Stephanie Beech was able to experience this great day as a runner this year.
It was an early start on Sunday morning, meeting the rest of the Jesuit Missions runners at Waterloo at 7.30am, but it felt a bit like waking up early to go on holiday. I was so excited! I took a tube already packed with runners, including one man who was attempting to break a Guinness World record dressed as a shoe. I felt nervous and apprehensive, but above all excited. Excited to experience London at its finest, and to take part in one of the most famous events in the world.
I was most worried about getting cold and hungry in the lead up to the start but, after queuing for the toilet a couple of times, I found that the time went fast. Crossing the start line was emotional; almost immediately people started shouting my name from the side line. I had to control myself to stop myself from crying, as I realised this could take up a lot of precious energy if I carried it on for the next 26 miles. So instead, I smiled and soaked up the atmosphere.
After that it was a bit of a blur, until mile 11 when I looked out to see the first Jesuit Missions support point. It was great to see familiar faces amongst the thousands of people lining the streets. I gave a big wave before bracing myself for Tower Bridge. The noise was unbelievable. Drums, singing, hooters and loud speakers drowning out people shouting names. I don’t think I expected there to be such a crowd for the full 26.2 miles, at times I even found myself wishing for a moment of silence to gather my thoughts. But it certainly made the time go quick. It was amazing to see so many people cheering me on, both familiar faces and strangers.
Running up the home straight I once again found myself getting emotional, those last 200 metres feeling like a lifetime, before crossing the line in 3 hours 51 minutes. I was the second Jesuit Missions runner to finish after Ruth Freer, teacher at St Aloysius, Glasgow who finished in 3 hours 44 minutes.
This year’s hashtag #thanksabillion really sums up the gratitude I feel to every single person who was supporting and volunteering out on the course on Sunday. The support and whole organisation of the day was unbelievable and I’m so grateful to every single person who has sponsored me before, during and after the event; I’ve been so overwhelmed by all the generosity.
Jesuit Missions fielded 26 runners on Sunday 28th April including two wombles, John Jackson and Richard Hargreaves, who finished in a very respectable time of 5 hours 32 minutes. Jesuit school, Stonyhurst had a team of six dubbed the Stonyhurst Sprinters who travelled down from Lancashire to take part in the event. There were also Jesuit parishioners from both St Wilfrid’s in Preston and St Aloysius, Glasgow who took part in this great event.The runners this year each aim to raise £2000 for Jesuit Missions life changing work across the world, including a teacher training college in South Sudan in memory of Fr Victor Luke SJ, who started this work before he tragically died in November 2018.