• Helen Phillips

Meet our VLM19 Marathoners #10: Jay (Baby Shark)


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 Jay, who ran VLM19 for NSPCC. Please read on to hear his story.

Tell me about your running journey

I started running about 8 years ago. I was a very heavy smoker (about 40 per day) and one New Year’s Eve I decided to that I was quitting and I have not had a fag since.

However stopping smoking meant that I started to eat biscuits and quickly my body weight ballooned. Initially running was a way to lose the weight and get healthier.

Running London this year for me was about revenge on the race from last year where I ended up injured and unable to train properly for 8 months.

Running London last year I tore my anterior tibialis muscle quite severely and damaged my ACL, at mile 5. I should have stopped. Instead I pushed on and damaged my leg further. My expected time of 3:30 became 5+ hours of agony.

I was going to defer this year but decided in January that I would push on and run for fun this year and not time. That’s the main reason I dressed as the baby shark this year.

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

The marathon distance has just become part of the natural progression of my running.

Once upon a time I found 500 meters a challenge and as time has gone on the distance that I have found challenging has increased. Now I find marathon distance plus is my challenge.

So why DO you run Lee?

Now to those that do not know me the answer I give is because I like food and run to burn it off, but the truth is so much more complicated.

I run to get away from the demons of my past and from a very troubled and traumatic childhood. I run to keep my past out of my mind.

Why am I running the London marathon for the NSPCC? Because no child should have a childhood like me and my brothers endured. The work of the NSPCC is crucial to not only help prevent or intervene in situations like I was in and they also offer help and support to children once they are affected by situations like mine or worse.

So that question one final time, why do you run so much? The answer is simple because I love to eat food and have to keep the weight off somehow.

How much have you raised for your charity?

The last two years I have run for the NSPCC, a charity close to my heart.

My personal target this year was £4000 which I have now surpassed.

We asked friends, family and businesses to help with fundraising. My employer has also been very generous as have my colleagues who have helped with Table Tennis competitions at work.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

This year my goal was to finish uninjured, my wife told me in no uncertain terms that if I pushed for a time I was going to be in BIG trouble.

Naturally I ignored her and when I met her at mile 9 she reminded me that I was meant to be having fun and not racing. So from that point on I started to sing and dance around the course and ended up having much more fun!

What were you most looking forward to on race day?

On race day for me this year I was just looking forwards to crossing that line in a happy place this year and not in pain. I was also looking forward to catching up with friends that I made at last years marathon.

Tell me about race day?

Race day was awesome, being dressed as the baby shark and having baby shark on my vest meant that the crowed went mad.

I had people chanting, singing with me, dancing with me and just generally having lots of fun. Dancing across the finish line and having the marshals chatting to me about why I stopped to dance will stick with me for a long time.

Jay (Baby Shark) 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.