I started running just over 2 years ago in 2018. The impetus to start came from my then 5 year old daughter Evie who wanted to run at junior parkrun. Panic set in there and then. Having been diagnosed with Adult Onset Stills disease in 2010, I had spent the best parts of my 20s and 30s ‘being careful’ and definitely ‘not overdoing things’. I had settled into a risk averse lifestyle that now meant I was missing out joining in fun activities with my VERY active kids!

I started slowly, walking round Hartham Common with a cup of tea and gradually got stronger. Before I knew it Evie and I had became junior parkrun regulars. We made many friends there and soon became part of the very warm community. 

We became friends with a group of runners who were running the Edinburgh Marathon. They talked me into it, promising that it was ‘downhill all the way!’ Ahem.

Every time I felt exhausted and tormented by my training I would remember Evie’s determination, grit and positivity. I just had to scale that up to marathon distance!

I decided to run for SPACE as they were a local charity who had provided a lot of support, friendship, encouragement and advice to our family. We had the most hands on experience you could get and we were hugely grateful.

I was jubilant to break the 20 mile target with my friends on a weekend that was tinged with foreboding – I think we all knew it would be our last training run. Covid was establishing itself in the community and there was talk of lockdowns. 

When lockdown did hit both Stills and my medication placed me in the shielding category and the advice was strong – do not leave the house.

Two weeks into lockdown I became unwell and both my fitness and my mood plummeted. My sister and her fiance gifted me a treadmill for my birthday and I slowly started to run again. This boosted my mental and physical health considerably. However, the effects of shielding on a family with 2 young children were brutal. Even more so when there are additional needs to consider.

We still knew we were lucky. We had neighbours we didn’t even know coming into our lives with support. We had community groups new and old offering help and a friendly word. It was the best of humanity.

I began to hear more and more stories of children with additional needs at crisis point and families with very little support. A great swathe of the community suddenly had their care provision and support network withdrawn. SPACE were working so hard to provide as much as they could for anyone who needed it. As a small, local charity they were struggling with income as many of the usual fundraising activities were suddenly impossible. The staff and volunteers – also parents and carers – had huge challenges of their own to contend with. SPACE remained awesome despite these unprecedented challenges.

I’d already accrued about £300 in sponsorship for the marathon and I felt I needed to see it through to the end for SPACE and to repay my debt to the community. I was shielding and was frankly fed up of feeling helpless. When the organisers announced that they would hold the event as a virtual marathon, I got the bit between my teeth and decided to do it on my treadmill.

As I’d lost a lot of fitness I decided to run the distance over the course of a week. However, I was absolutely overwhelmed with sponsorship and felt like it needed a more worthy challenge. So I decided to do it all in one go!

Emily running her marathon on a treadmill, smiling and giving a big thumbs up

I was incredibly touched by my sponsors. Every single one added a touch of acceptance and positivity for my daughters’ condition. Names from school, family and friends were appearing on my fundraising page and it helped replace anxiety with hope. ASD was, and still is, very new to us. Each pledge was like an endowment of support, a little nod to say ‘we’re right behind you’.

So, on Sunday May 24th 2020 I ran the Virtual Edinburgh Marathon on a treadmill in my Garden. It was a hot day and I was certainly put through my paces, but my husband and kids were on hand with the Percy Pigs to keep me going. Our neighbours offered over the fence support too!

As a first marathon attempt it was an adventure and won’t be forgotten – even if it wasn’t downhill all the way! I managed to raise over £1800 and completed the distance in 5 h 12m 36s.

A huge thank you to Emily for sharing her story and raising money so generously for SPACE.

We simply couldn’t do what we do without the active involvement of our families and the local community – it is your support that consistently enables us to help families when they need it the most.

Whether you have an idea or just ‘the wish’ to do something and get involved in fundraising for us, we would love to talk to you – please get in touch.