The  landscape for the London Marathon has changed but my reasons for joining the virtual race are the same. Why am I running 2020 London Marathon for Haven House? Well, my lovely Mum-in-Law, Sue Irwin founded Haven House. Even though Sue is sadly no longer with us, my family are so proud of the hospice, and the incredible work they do. I’m doing this for Sue’s legacy, but most importantly to ensure Haven House can continue to help as many children and their families as possible.

Running for Haven House is a huge privilege, but now comes the reality… I've joined my local running club, New Forest Runners. My first was 10 miles of running across the beautiful New Forest. I loved it and I did the distance without trouble.

Perhaps I got a bit cocky, so I booked the Bournemouth Half Marathon this year in good spirits, what’s 13 miles? But training sees some disastrous longer runs, with illness, blisters and sheer exhaustion that knock me and made me question how I’ll run a full marathon.

On the day of the Bournemouth Half, my friend, Heather, aka ‘speedy’ plods patiently beside me, offering words of encouragement. I’d like to be able to speak but can only grunt, this is the hardest run I’ve ever done. When we get to mile 11 it falls apart. You hear about hitting a wall, but it’s never happened to me – until this time. I slow to a walk, so cross with myself but unable to run anymore.

It’s the thought of my two sons faces that keeps me going for the last two miles. I want them to see me finish strong, so I start to run again. As I cross the finish line, it’s hard not to cry. Yes, I had a to walk a little bit, but I’ve just run 13.1 miles. It’s the first hurdle in proving to myself I can do a full marathon.

For me the marathon is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the chance to do something amazing, for a very special charity. So, the next step is trying to run London 2020 in a decent time (for me!). I’m aiming for 4 hrs 30 – I’ve got some training to do! What are you aiming for?

If you’re thinking about which charity you’d like to run for, I can’t think of a better cause than Haven House. They receive very little government support, relying on supporters to help with over 81% of their funding. There is always more to do, and you, like me could help make a real difference to these children and their families. If that means 26 miles of pain, then count me in!

Ellie Irwin