The Challenge of a Lifetime

Luisa Markides
Luisa Markides

The Challenge of a Lifetime

I wonder what makes someone take up a challenge like wanting to complete a marathon. Why would someone endure this with his body? It is a huge distance of 42km to be run within a certain time frame, regardless of the weather conditions.

The origin of the marathon goes back to 490 BC. The Greeks heard that the Persians had entered the city of Marathon on their way to attack Athens. It is said that a messenger named Pheidippides ran 260km in two days to Sparta to break the news.

However, the idea of a proper marathon distance race was carried out for the first time at the modern Olympics Games in Athens only in 1896, supported by the founder of the modern Olympic Games, Pierre de Coubertin.

One of my childhood values with which I have been brought up was to never give up and to always have a clear target to achieve. Therefore, I challenged myself with a New Year’s resolution of completing one half marathon and one full marathon by the end of 2022. Little did I know that it would quickly turn into an addiction for weekly half marathons.

In my mid-twenties, I took part, totally unprepared, in a 10km race in my hometown in Switzerland. I reached the finish line second last which hit me rather hard.

But it was the best motivation to get better and improve myself. Our mind is stronger than anything. We just must believe in ourselves and our abilities.

I started running frequently and took part in races. But overall, back then, running outside in nature, helped me cope with my mental health.

Working in Palliative Care, assisting patients and their families during their end-of-life phase is one of the most rewarding jobs, although it can have a huge impact on us as we are constantly surrounded by very sad and often difficult situations.

Being able to go for a run after my working hours helped me so much to switch off and have a healthy balance. Moving to London in 2014 and raising my two small children, I have had to put my needs aside a little bit.

Lockdown has also left a significant sign on me as on many of us too. But now is the time to get back to my passion. Without much training, I concluded my first half marathon in January within one hour and 48 minutes which I was very pleased with, thinking back to my first race. I could not be happier by having received the chance to take up a challenge of a lifetime.

I have been offered the possibility to run the iconic London Marathon this year and to be one of 40,000 people running 42.2km through London this October.

It is very difficult to get an entry for the London Marathon. For this year’s race, over 350,000 applicants were hoping to get an entry though a completely random ballot, but only around 17,000 got in.

Therefore, like myself, we can run for a charity, in exchange for fundraising a significant amount of money for them.

I am very proud to be able to run for an incredible charity called “Give it your Max” which supports vulnerable children by helping them overcome, through sports, issues such as poor mental health and self-esteem, obesity, inactivity, anti-social behavior, crime, as well as low aspiration levels. Every child, regardless of their background, should have access to sports, as this can help them tackle these increasingly important issues and reach their full potential.

Here I am trying to find an answer to my initial question of why I would want to run 42.2km. This question is purely for myself and to prove to myself that my mind is stronger than my body as well as to give a sign to my children to pursue their beliefs despite the difficulties. When the legs get tired, run with your heart, they say. 

It is all within us. We need to trust our mind that wants to take over our fatigue. So I am putting on my running shoes and following a hard training schedule over the next 5 months while trying to raise money for the above charity.

This might be the toughest physical challenge, but one of the most rewarding to hopefully get to the finish line in under four hours.

Aiming high, as always.

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