Our First Fundraising Athlete Shares Her London Marathon Experience

Redruth Charity Trust was honoured to be chosen as the beneficiary for a London Marathon runner’s endeavour; our first every athletic fundraiser! Redruth resident Vanessa Till chose the Trust having seen our work in the district, and her fundraising page raised £600. We asked Vanessa to share her experience of the big day…

As I came round the corner I saw Buckingham Palace to my left and the finish line to my right. The end was in sight after a gruelling 26.2 miles. Then I heard my daughter and husband calling and spotted them in the crowd. Choking back tears I found energy that I didn’t know existed and started to run again. 

I could hear my name being called out by the commentators, it was just a blur at that point. As I looked up I saw the people cheering me on in the gantry above. 

I crossed the line and can remember asking the volunteers if I could stop running now? Then joined the queue to receive my medal. The lady placed it over my neck and the tears started to run, she kindly gave me a hug and moved me on. They wrapped me in a foil blanket and kindly tied it up as I was unable to do anything for myself at this point. This was when my legs started to cease up, but I remember holding the medal thinking I am never letting this go!! 

This was the moment I completed the London Marathon! 

Wow I never thought I’d say that, I’d applied in my 20’s but didn’t get a place, then applied for a charity place for the Brighton marathon but was unable to raise the money. So last year for numerous reasons I tried the ballot again, I can recall the moment the email came through. I must of read it numerous times before it really sunk in, this was a chance of a lifetime, but was I really capable?

Turns out I am!

Training started summer 2023, and slowed down for the run up to Xmas, I managed to take a tumble off the ski slopes of Scotland over Xmas and I thought “well that’s the Marathon over”. 

But never one to give up, and started in earnest again in February. The rain was relentless, cold and miserable. I trained alone, sometimes on the dreaded “treadmill”. It’s hard in Cornwall to get a straight run on pavements, sometimes I would find myself weaving from through roads and in circles just to make up the miles. Although I enjoy running, it doesn’t come easy and shin splits were often my running pals, but through good advice and exercise I carried on.

So as April approached I can’t honestly say that I felt like I had “done enough” but it was enough to get me through. It was then that I started to believe that I would be going and thought about a Charity.

There are so many to choose from, in the past I had raised money for animals, poorly children but I wanted to choose a charity that meant a lot locally and this is where I was drawn to the Redruth Charity Trust. Having seen their posts on social media, the rugby and my daughter’s school. I thought that even if I could only raise a few pounds then it would go to a great cause and contribute to making a difference in my home town. Having made initial contact and receiving such a wonderful welcome, we set up the just giving page.

The Trust in conjunction with Granite sports kindly arrange a running top, with the Trust logo and to my surprise my name. 

So there I was ready to go, during the week I was overwhelmed with support from friends and family who were unaware of my goal, up until this point. As well as receiving some lovely supportive messages and donations from friends of the Trust. 

I was committed.

You have to collect your Bib and tracker from the Expo before the race, I had read online how emotional runners were feeling. When I collected mine I was afraid I was a bit of a fraud, there were so many people there. I didn’t feel I fitted in, I had doubts at this stage of my ability to finish the race, it really hit home. 

Fortunately there is little time to think before the race on Sunday morning. All my energy was in preparing myself mentally and physical for the start line. I had read that 99% of people who get to the start will finish and I was holding onto that fact. 

Sunday morning arrived, my kit was ready. I think I had prepared for every eventuality. The hotel had even put on an early breakfast as there were a few participants staying. All the travel through London is free so you felt like royalty breezing through the tube. Changing at Charing Cross to get to Blackheath was when it really became real, the train was packed with all shapes and sizes. All nervous regardless of experience, chattering and sharing their personal stories on the 20min journey across London. 

Disembarking it was like a sea of people all converging towards the heath. I stopped and watched for a minute, with that last minute temptation to back out, but caught my breath and carried on walking. 

Placing my hydration belt around my waist, I passed over my bag onto the lorry that would take it to the finish line. 

Mentally and physically getting myself set to start. I located a pacer that I thought would be “about my speed” and stood with the group. So finally we were called up to start moving towards the starting pen. Jumpers off and into the charity bins, you could hear them call our wave – Blue 18, starting at 11.24am.

And then we were off, a comfortable pace, firstly through a residential area, the roads lines with people. Small children hands out for high fives, funny banners. As we moved through the course we had all kinds of musical entertainment. You could hear it as you approached, later in the day you could smell the BBQ’s as well. The first big milestone was the Cutty Sark, you could see the TV camera on the boom and hear the crowds. But nothing could prepare you for the noise and emotions of running across Tower bridge, cameras everywhere, people shouting out your name. Almost a surreal moment and one that will stay with me for life. At this point I was still with the group that were following the pacer, they say the first half is the “easiest”, as we came off the bridge and headed past the half way point I could feel the tiredness in my legs. It started to get much harder to keep up. So at this point I switched to plan B. I had my watch set on 30/30 split. So this meant run for 30 secs and walk for 30 secs. This was manageable and I was still moving forward at a good pace. So watching the pacer move off, I then set on my own journey. Up until this point I had met a wonderful inspirational woman that was spurring me on. Now I was on my own.

This was where all those amazing messages and the thoughts of the sponsorship really drove me forward. I also had some amazing friends that were sending me inspirational messages that just kept me moving forward. So around Canary Wharf I went, trying to focus on moving forward, spurred on by the amazing crowds and encouragement. At this point I hadn’t the energy for High fives just a smile and a thank you as I passed by, the energy was amazing.

Nearing the 20 mile marker was when I received a message from my husband to say they would be waiting at mile 22. So on I went past rainbow row and the fabulous disco sounds, onwards towards the Tower of London. Trying to scan the crowds I was afraid I had missed them, just then I spotted my daughter and husband waving. Wow what a wave of emotion, a quick hello and off I was again, tears streaming down my face. Legs like lead, just about managing a shuffle. This was when the crowds got me through and I was so grateful for the name on my shirt. The encouragement was so heartfelt and personal. “It’s ok Vanessa, you’ve got this”

“Not long now, keep going Vanessa” so lovely and just kept me moving. 

Mile 23/24 was hardwork digging deep, putting one foot in front of another. Moving forward. It wasn’t long that I realised that my “running” was the same pace as those walking beside me. I then decided to walk as fast as I could, and it seemed to work. The crowds deepened and it was then that I realised that I was yards from the finish. They start to count down 600, 300 and then you turn the corner……

This was my journey, I am so proud of my achievement. I am so lucky to have the support of my family and the local community. I met some amazing people that day, it will stay with me for the rest of my life. I am so proud to have represented the Redruth Charity Trust, and hopefully will show that you don’t have to look like a runner to run a marathon. It’s a journey, everyone has their own story and each and every person crossed the line received their medal and can now say they have completed the London Marathon, which is a huge privilege. I wanted to be an inspiration to my daughter, to prove to myself that I am capable of more than I can ever imagine. And to raise awareness of an incredible local charity. Job done! 

Vanessa Till

Vanessa’s fundraising page on JustGiving