Two Half Marathons for a Whole Good Cause

Back in 2019, feeling sprightly, I signed up to the Hackney Half Marathon for the following year, obviously completely oblivious to what was about to unfold. Fast forward to May 2021 and I realised the run had been scheduled for September and due to lockdown unfitness, the prospect filled me with absolute fear. When Women and Children and First approached me to run the Royal Parks, I decided to take this fear head-on and set myself the challenge of running 2 half marathons in 2 weeks.

Women and Children First is a fantastic charity for which I have the pleasure of being the treasurer, alongside my role as COO for international production group, Argonon. Over the last 20 years, they have saved the lives of thousands of women and children in remote communities in Africa and Asia where preventable deaths remain high.

Having given birth to 2 children in the wonderful UCL myself, I cannot begin to imagine the challenges women face in other parts of the world.

When I began training 10 weeks before Half Marathon #1, even 5k was a challenge, but I wasn’t going to be deterred. Like Forrest Gump, I just kept on running, clocking up 240k over the training period, and running further and further each week. The training took its toll – a week before the Hackney Half I had to have a painful Thai massage to knock my body into shape and release the pain in my hips and bottom.

The Hackney Half came around very quickly. I was nervous and felt just about prepared – I was delighted to cross the line in 2 hours and 11 minutes. I also went straight from the run to watch Arsenal beat Spurs 3-1…it was a Laura Super Sunday. On Monday however, I was in a world of pain and by Tuesday, even tackling the stairs in my house was a challenge. My body slowly recovered but the thought of running another half marathon, so soon after, filled me with dread.

However, I shouldn’t have been so fearful. The day arrived to run the Royal Parks Half Marathon and, cheered on by the WCF team, I ran the race in 2 hours 12 minutes, finishing in the top 30% of the women, of which for a lady hitting middle age I am super proud.

In summation, it is always good to take yourself out of your comfort zone and take on new challenges – pregnant women in remote areas of Africa are doing this but not by choice. This itself is humbling. From all my efforts I am delighted by the support and money I have raised it has been an unbelievable experience and journey. This includes the generous support of Argonon who is matching a percentage of amounts donated. 

If you’re interested in supporting this incredibly worthwhile cause, you can sponsor me by clicking here.


By Laura Bessell