Runners lucky enough to get a coveted ballot place in this year’s London Marathon have raised thousands of pounds for World Vision UK.
Somayeh Tosi, Leah Miles-Sinyinza, and Andrew Morley all completed the gruelling 26.2-mile run on Sunday 3 October. World Vision has offices across the world and works to transform the lives of vulnerable people in more than 100 countries.
Andrew is the President and CEO of World Vision International, the central branch of the global charity, and London 2021 was his first-ever marathon. He completed the event four hours, 32 minutes, and 40 seconds and raised more than £20,000 in sponsorship for the World Vision Afghanistan Appeal.
“The reason why I’m happy is not because of the personal satisfaction, it’s because we’ve made so much difference to so many children in Afghanistan who need us now more than ever,” says Andrew.
Somayeh Tosi, 41, ran the 41st London Marathon for World Vision after recovering from long-covid. She started training in January, completing a half marathon distance run every week and running a full marathon in May.
“I’ve carried on running and completed the London Marathon on 3 October after the Brighton Marathon on 12 September. My next marathon will be Paris on 17 October.”
The mother-of-one who works for a public law firm and is a board member of Westway Housing Association in London, says: “I love running, that’s my passion, and anything you are passionate about you find the time to do.”
Like thousands of people, Somayeh has entered the ballot for the London Marathon year after year without success. But this was her lucky year as she got to run the famous 26.2-mile route around the UK’s capital city.
With a ballot place, she could choose which charity she would run for. “I run for charities all the time. I came here from Iran in 2005 and I wanted to do something for children in Afghanistan. I found World Vision UK and got in touch.”
While she says the race didn’t go as well as she’d hoped, Somayeh learnt from the experience. “I over hydrated before the race and drank too much water in the first half. When I hit 16 miles, I felt sick and I had to stop for a significant time at mile 21. I had a stomach stitch, so I had to walk/run until I finished.”
However, despite the sickness, Somayeh stayed positive and finished in five hours and 20 minutes. “I was disappointed with my time on Sunday, but I enjoyed the fun part of the event. I’m smiling in all official pictures. When I realised, I wasn’t going to make my goal time I didn’t stop. In an event like this, the running community are very supportive. They often talk to you and encourage you to continue. That’s what I really like about running
“I’m an occasional runner. I run for my own mental health and fitness. It’s fun and at each race you learn something new. At the London Marathon, I learnt about over-hydration and the importance of getting good sleep night before.”
So, what training tips would Somayeh give to would-be runners? “Understand your fitness level and don’t be put off when you see others finishing the marathon in two or three hours. Running is for everyone at any age. You need to train in a way that is safe for you.”
“Challenge yourself, for instance, start with a 5km, and increase your distance by 10 percent each week, no more than that. Find a good training plan that works for you, there are lots online” she says.
Somayeh emphasized the importance of core strength training for avoiding injuries. “I do half an hour of yoga every morning. I’d suggest run three or four times a week including a long run and most important of all, remember to have fun.”
“It’s your mental health and your body. I stay mindful of avoiding injuries – I always know I need my legs for the next event.”
Leah Miles-Sinyinza ran the marathon in memory of her mum who died following a short illness after suffering a stroke in Zambia in January 2020.
“Mum was a loving godly woman – she always selflessly served others because of her love for Jesus and her involvement with the church. She was an extremely social person and a super ball of energy – she was great at entertaining both young and old with a great sense of humour.
“She was the best mum and my best friend. The reality of losing mum has had a huge impact on my family as we miss her so much. But we are comforted by the fact that although she has departed from us, she is with Christ and that is by far better,” says Leah, an NHS worker who knows the importance of good healthcare and education systems.
“Like many countries in the world, Zambia has been massively impacted by Covid-19 which has had a detrimental effect on their healthcare system and economy,” she says.
Leah has chosen to support charities close to her mum’s heart, Zambia Orphans Aid UK and Project Zambia, as well as World Vision UK.
Could you complete a sporting challenge and raise money for World Vision’s vital work bringing transformation and hope to vulnerable communities? Find out more here.
Written by: Jo Duckles