• Helen Phillips

Meet our VLM19 Marathoners #8: Philippa


Not everyone can run a marathon. You have to be a special kind of determined and crazy to train and then complete 26.2 miles on the day.

In my VLM19 Meet Our Marathoners Series we meet ordinary people who have battled through and achieved extraordinary.

Today we meet Philippa, who ran VLM19 for St Johns Ambulance. Please read on to hear her story.

Tell me about your running journey

I started my running journey January 2017. I originally started to help with weight loss but running ended up changing my life.

I met a guy who was a run leader at my local running club. After months of him saying “come along you’ll love it” I got a grip on my anxiety and went along. Hands down the best decision I ever made and I’ve never looked back!

I joined the club and just ran socially. But soon I started entering races and fell in love with the buzz of race day and the general running community.

I remember watching the marathon in 2017 and I was in awe of all these amazing runners, I entered the ballot for 2018 and didn’t get in, I was relieved and disappointed in equal measures!

By the time London 2019 came around I’d done 4 half marathons and several other races. I was elated to get my place running for an amazing charity St. John Ambulance.

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

I think the buzz you get from a race can’t be topped and I guess I just thought that the bigger the race the bigger accomplishment you must feel at the end. Smugly I was right ha! .

How much have you raised for your charity?

I ran for St. John Ambulance, they were so supportive through out the whole process and I loved running for them on the day! It was amazing!

The NHS ambulance service have saved my life on a couple of occasions and I wanted to give something back and as they support this service I thought it was the perfect charity for me.

On the day of the marathon St. John volunteers performed CPR 3 times and administered first aid to thousands of runners! I’ve raised almost £4000 for them and I have genuinely helped save lives, this is what kept me going.

My fundraising target was £1900 and I’ve made almost £4000, it’s been amazing to see the support from my local community, family and friends.

I’ve exceeded my target, first thing I did was a raffle. I sent out hundreds of emails and messages and got some great prizes on board! I raised almost £1,200 on the raffle alone.

I did a bag pack in Asda and raised almost £550. My son has sold some of his toys, I did a bake sale and asked for sponsors.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

I’d told myself all along that I wanted to just get round. I had in my mind that ideally I wanted to get under 6 hours but realistically I didn’t think I would achieve that!

How did your training go?

Training started well, but 8 weeks into my training I suddenly lost my mum. Life stood still, so many things ran through my head. Do I want to carry on? Can I carry on? How am I going to train when I’m struggling to get out of bed on a morning let alone go run 12 miles? It was a conversation I had with myself over and over and over and I decided that I was going to carry on and complete London for my mum.

It was hard. Some days where REALLY hard, there were times when I thought ‘why am I even doing this’ and there were times when I couldn’t find any answers. My training plan was out the window, I tried to stick to it as much as possible but some days were just too hard to get those trainers laced up!

The hardest run in my training was by far Blackpool half marathon, it was two weeks after mum died and again I questioned if I could do it, but thought bugger it I’ll go and walk it if I have to. I was ok till mile 5 and fell apart, every step from 5 to 13.1 was torture, my head was saying you can’t do this, why are you doing this? But through tears and my streaming nose I got to the end, with the support of the amazing people around me. It wasn’t quick but I did what I set out to do, I finished and got my medal!

From then on, training got easier and I made it my focus rather than letting the grief rule me! I’m so glad I was able to carry on, it was definitely the right choice for me, all be it was a very emotional few months!

What do you love and hate about running?

I loved the way it brought me together with people I’d never have met if it wasn’t for running! I’ve made friends through the varying running groups, I love the way people have said I’ve inspired them to get up and out the door.

I’m not gonna lie, I hated the runs on a weekend, it took up so much of my time and when you’re struggling with life anyway it was very very tough! I missed a few long runs but ultimately I had to be kind to myself! I hated having to run in a morning, I’m not a morning person!

If you could choose who would present your finishers bling who would it be?

My mum and dad, sadly neither of them are with me anymore and didn’t get to see me cross that finish line!!

Do you have a special post run treat?

Strangely I haven’t felt hungry after any of my long runs or races. It’s the days following it catches up on me and I need all the food, anything and everything!!

Tell me about race day?

I could go on forever about race day!

The apprehension in the starting pens, I had a little cry and lots of cuddles with my fellow runners. I loved the start, I loved the bands and support all the way round. I loved seeing my family and friends on tower bridge and just before the finish, they kept me going all the way round!

I’ll never forget the moment I’d finished I was in a bit of a daze and I was just wandering along tears streaming down my face and a lovely marshal looked at me help her arms open wide and said you need a cuddle don’t you, we hugged it out and I sobbed on her!

Also another moment was when I’d got to the public area at the end and I sat on the pavement and my son came running over, sat down next to me and gave me the biggest cuddle. The tears were streaming again! That’s my fave picture from the day. x

Philippa You're Awesome! You smashed VLM19!

If you're already thinking about your marathon next year, you'll be pleased to hear Marathon Club Hub is now open.

Marathon Club Hub is my training & preparation programme for first and next time marathoners to provide you all the advice, information and support you need to get ready to run.

Click HERE to join Marathon Club Hub to get going with your training for next spring.