Willow blog

You Don’t Need Lycra To Call Yourself A Runner – You Need A Reason

March 31, 2017

Jackie Scully is one of 30 amazing individuals running the Virgin Money London Marathon for Willow next month. Not content with running 26.2 miles in one day, Jackie is marrying fiance Duncan on the Cutty Sark on the morning of the marathon before running the course with her new husband. For her latest blog post she explores the reasons why other members of Team Willow are taking part…

“Anyone who has ever put on a pair of trainers and got out into the fresh air runs for a reason. 

One of the best things about ‘going long’ on marathon training (in fact maybe the only good thing) is that you get to see lots of people just getting out there and giving it a go.

It’s not always pretty – says the woman with the terrible gait, fluffy chemo-styled hair, dodgy hips and injury-battered body. But, what’s so brilliant about this great leveller of a sport, is that however you do it, wherever you do it and whatever technique you use to get round, you get to call yourself a runner.

I know friends who run to carve out time for themselves. I know friends who run to forget. I know friends who run just to keep moving forward. I know friends who run to support others in their lives. 

They need running in their lives. And I need running too – which for someone with a hip full of metal is perhaps an odd thing to say. But, when I’m out there (looking in pain and generally grimacing) I feel happy to be alive. I feel like I ‘can’ in a world that often tells (and shows) me I can’t. 

So, to tie in with the London Marathon’s #Reasontorun campaign, I asked those running for Willow alongside my new husband and me about their reasons. 


For Gemma Crozier, running her first marathon is about running for the millions of people who can’t – particularly those fighting a long-term illness and for those who have lost a loved one. She’s also running in memory of her Great Uncle ‘Rusty’, who passed away after a diagnosis of cancer several years ago. I know the struggles she has faced with her training, but I admire her determination and strength. She said to me: ‘I run in the hope that one day there will be a cure for the illnesses millions of people fight each day and hope that time with loved ones is no longer cut short.’ I am humbled to know her. 


Then there’s Jo Brand (Allen), who is turning 50 on 21 April and is running both to push herself and to help others. She confessed to me that she hates running and has no idea how she will complete the distance. But, she is prepared to face the voice in her head telling her to stop just to support those less fortunate than her. She said to me: ‘I realise that my marathon battle is insignificant compared to those fought every day by the seriously ill young people supported by Willow. I have been very lucky in life and so I’d like to do something to help those who’ve been dealt some very bad luck.’ What an incredible lady to gift her birthday celebrations to help others find a reason to celebrate. Can’t wait to raise a glass with her.


Katie Drummond-Dunn is taking on 26.2miles for her sister Chars who was supported by Willow when she had cancer. Her sister helps people in a sports clinic every day now and has inspired Katie to confront the rain and hail and long runs to give back to the charity that were ‘a ray of sunshine after a dark couple of years’. She said to me: ‘I know my pain during the longer training runs does not even compare with the suffering felt by those battling a life-threatening illness so I hope I can do everyone proud in the London Marathon.’ I know she will offer hope to so many with this beautiful act of kindness. 


Carolyn Linsell is one of life’s treasures and when I met her for the first time, I was inspired by her energy and spirit. She started running less than four years ago and took on the Willow 10K at Hatfield House as her first challenge. She runs the marathon for Willow for nephew, who was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma and received a special day from the charity. She has seen at first hand what a day away from treatment plans and toxic drugs can do to help someone facing the relentless challenge of serious illness and she now wants to make every step count. She said to me: ‘His Willow special day got him through his final chemo and gave him the lift he needed as his hair was thinning and he’d lost his eyebrows too’. What a woman! 

And these lovely ladies are not alone. On marathon day, it’s impossible not to find a way to feel thankful and inspired. 

Everyone who steps out onto that London Marathon course steps out for a reason – for their head, their heart and to offer hope to the world. May they all find the strength to go that extra mile. 

I am humbled to be among them.”


To read more of Jackie’s blog, please click HERE.

For more information on Willow or to donate to help fund more Special Days, please click HERE.