This year at the London Marathon, JRS UK has 5 dedicated runners on the team who are taking on this challenge to support refugees. One of them is our very own Communications Manager, Eileen. We recently chatted with Eileen to hear more about why she decided to run the marathon and what her journey preparing for it has been.
Very adventurously I did the Couch to 5K challenge and felt very proud of myself – what a great achievement! I tried to keep up a regular 6K just to stay fit. I was out running one Sunday morning and found myself unexpectedly in the midst of the Royal Parks Half-Marathon Run. I could see what an amazing atmosphere and event it was, and it inspired me. I was listening to Desert Island discs at the time, and guess what the second disc was? It was “Come On Eileen!”. So I thought, yes, I’m sure with preparation and training, I can do this. I started training and it was very ambitious for me, because I’m not really a runner. One of the things I found the hardest was finding the time in my busy schedule, because it takes a lot of time to do the long runs.
The training is quite demanding in every way, and so is the fundraising. I don’t really like asking people for money. But it’s not for me, it’s for refugee friends—so thinking this way helps. The fundraising consists mainly in talking a lot about the work of Jesuit Refugee Service, the lives of refugees, and the issues they face, and I know that JRS really does make a huge difference to their lives.
I was doing very well and then I had a knee injury from doing sprints, which seemed like a good idea at the time! So whilst sprinting in very cold weather, I really hurt my knee. I had to take off three weeks for recovery and I had to go to physio and that was very expensive! But the physiotherapist was very good, and he’s got me running again—I’m now running every day. They’re shorter runs until I’m completely sure of my knee, but so far so good…
In terms of training, the injury put me back, and that was hard. Psychologically, it was hard not being able to run knowing that time was passing. That was quite pressurized because time felt very short already. So then to lose three weeks was upsetting. But it’s great to see many people out and running. It looks like the whole world is preparing for the marathon at the moment!
When I am running, I think of people who have to run away from danger, from their home, from persecution—and how hard that must be. And when I’m running and I’m finding it hard because I’m tired or it hurts, I think of them. I think of people who have had to flee. And actually, that helps me pray, because I pray for refugees every day. I ask God to help me serve in my work and to really work well in service of refugees, who are the people that we’re working for at JRS.
Ahead of the marathon day, I’m nervous that I’ll get another injury and I’m worried that I won’t be fast enough. I’m worried that I won’t reach my fundraising ambition. But apart from that, I’m not worried. I’m enjoying it!
A huge thank you to Eileen and our 4 other marathon runners of 2023!
To help Eileen meet her fundraising goal: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/eileen-cole