• Helen Phillips

Meet our VLM19 Marathoners #17: Kathryn


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 Kathryn, who ran VLM19 for Brain Tumour Research UK. Please read on to hear her story. If you'd like to support Kathryns fundraising click HERE.

Tell me about your running journey

I started running in 1998 with a friend – Friday evenings were our time to get caught up on the week. I decided to run the Marine Corp Marathon in 1999 as a way to lose weight (a New Year’s Resolution that was, but wasn’t, about weight loss). Prior to London, I’ve done the Marine Corp and Boston Marathons, plus loads of halves.

Why did you decide you wanted to run a marathon?

My first marathon was a New Year’s Resolution; but it also became an “act of defiance”, I am not a runner, but wanted to prove I could do it; especially after a few people laughed at me when I said I wanted to run a marathon.

My second marathon was Boston which was an opportunity that I could not pass up. London was deliberate and personal as I wanted to turn the loss of Mark and Karen (my brother-in-law and sister) into something more positive (if one can say that about losing your loved ones).

I chose London for 3 other reasons:

  • I am an American who married a Brit. While it took a while for my husband’s family to accept an “American” once they did they embraced me as their own. Since then London has become my 2nd home and I was thrilled to participate in this event as a tribute to the entire Bett/Johnston Family and in the memory of my late In-Laws.

  • This was my 3rdmarathon. I grew up just outside of Washington DC, my first was Marine Corp. I now live in MA therefore my 2nd was Boston and it’s only fitting that my 3rd was London.

  • I am amazed at the philanthropic nature of the London Marathon, there isn’t any other Marathon out there that has this level of commitment in fundraising for Charity.

How much have you raised for your charity?

I ran for Brain Tumour Research UK. My brother-in-law died from Stage 4 Glioblastoma; my sister never really recovered from Mark’s death and died 2 ½ years later. While Karen did not die from a Brain Tumour, she was all about Mark, so Brain Tumour Research made the most sense for fundraising.

I was set the target of £4,000.00 and have now raised over £7,000.

I started with a personal note to family and friends and then had 2 fundraisers: A British Beer, Cider, Gin/Vodka and Wine Tasting at a local high-end Wine Shop and a Guest Bartending night at my cousin’s bar with 22 raffles and a British Trivia Contest. I live in the US, so the British themed events were a great way to engage people.

Did you have a goal for the marathon?

It was all about the fundraising, I didn’t have a specific time in mind.

How did training go?

It started out great, but I fought a cold for most of the winter which made those long runs challenging.

I was also very fortunate to have my best friend by my side the entire time. Deb decided to sign up and run with me for Brain Tumour Research. It really helps to have someone keep you on track, especially when you are not motivated to get out and do those long runs. We made the commitment to start and finish the marathon together and we did.

Where I live it is all hills and heavy winds which makes it difficult, the New England winters can also be challenging but this year I was blessed with very little snow; which made the training a bit easier.

Do you have a post run treat?

There is nothing like a greasy hamburger and a beer after a long run. Otherwise I don’t do anything special.

If someone could present you with your finishers medal who would that be?

It would be Karen and Mark. I did this for them and would give anything to share that moment with them.

What were you most looking forward to on race day?

The atmosphere, seeing all the charity runners (knowing each has their own reason for being out there) and finishing.

Tell me about race day?

As always, I started out too fast, but it was a good day and while I didn’t finish at my goal, I finished.

I loved how supportive the crowds were and tried to wave and say “thank you” to everyone who shouted out my name.

Seeing my husband at miles 9 and 24 was special.

I saw a sign at mile 26 “If you can’t finish with your legs, finish with your heart”, I hadn’t cried up to that point, but it reminded me why I was there.

Kathryn You're Awesome! You smashed VLM19!

If you're already thinking about your next marathon, maybe you've got a race this autumn or you're entered into one next spring you'll be pleased to hear I'm opening up Marathon Club Hub.

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 get going NOW!