London Marathon 2017: Q&A with Ben Blackwell

Claire Williamson Get involved

After his exhausting run in the London Marathon on Sunday 23 April 2017, Antibiotic Research UK caught up with Ben Blackwell, who ran the 26.2 miles on behalf of our charity, along with his brother Marc. We found out how Ben got on with his training and the reasons he had chosen to run on our behalf.

Please thank Ben and Marc for completing the run by donating via the links below:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ANTRUKlondonmarathon2017

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/MarcBlackwell

 

  • Tell us about your experience with marathons. Was this your first?

Yes, this was my first ever marathon. Until this year, the furthest I had ever run was 10K in a mud run in 2016, and now I’m doing over 4 times that distance in support of Antibiotic Research UK (ANTRUK) and my family. Leading up to this event, my brother and I completed the Silverstone half marathon. This gave me an idea of what to expect on the day of the Virgin Money London Marathon.

 

  • How has the training been going?

Training has been hard, but it went very well. I think the biggest marathon shock for me is the time and commitment needed for training. I’ve trained for events in the past, but nothing compared to this. The marathon is just 4-6 hours on the day, but the training leading up to it is at least 7 hours a week, so when you have a family and commitments – along with a 2-hour commute to work – it is difficult to squeeze everything in.

 

  • What support have you been given, and did you have friends and family supporting you on the day?

The support has been great from my friends and family (especially from my fiancée, Emily, and my parents). I’ve also had unexpected support from people on social media. My brother Marc, who also took part, and other friends who have done marathons in the past have been great, giving me hints and tips for training, so a big thank you to them.

I also had several friends and family members coming to London on the day, and seeing people you know when running around gives you a massive lift. I realised how important this is thanks to my Dad, when he showed his support for me every few miles at the Silverstone half marathon.

 

  • How did you find fundraising and did you do anything in particular to help raise funds?

Fundraising was a lot harder than I thought, and getting people to donate their hard-earned money to a cause they are not too aware of proved to be more difficult than expected.

I’ve shared posts on social media and the intranet at work, and I even got stories put in local papers and put up bill boards asking for sponsors. The best thing about the fundraising is that people started approaching me about the marathon, whereas in the past, our paths would not have crossed, so I always use this opportunity to make people aware of AMR and ANTRUK. But even when a stranger comes up to you and says “good luck”, it just gives you that extra motivation.

 

  • What tips can you give to people thinking of running a marathon themselves?

Doing a marathon for the sense of achievement is enough reason to make you want to run one in the first place, but four tips are:

  1. Do it for a cause or something that is personal to you as this will help push you to train.
  2. Find a training program to suit you and stick to it.
  3. Ignore everyone else – this is the first time I’ve trained for an event like this and most people will tell you a certain time you need to aim to do, but it is important to remember that completing a marathon is an achievement in itself. Listen to your body and do it in the time you feel comfortable doing it in. Many people taking part have been running for years, so try not to be intimidated by their goals.
  4. Most importantly, enjoy it!

 

  • What motivated you to complete the marathon?

The main things motivating me were my family, and supporting ANTRUK. My fiancée Emily and my son are my world, my everything, so they were with me every step of the way. As you may know, Emily is an Ambassador for ANTRUK as she suffers from AMR. I was completely ignorant to AMR until we met, and it upsets me to see how unaware the rest of the world is to this global threat we face.

At the same time, I was overweight in my teens and when I lost weight, I always said that I wanted to do the London marathon before I was 30. I did the marathon at the age of 29, so better late than never!

 

  • Why have you decided to run for Antibiotic Research UK?

First of all, I would like to thank Professor Colin Garner and everyone at ANTRUK for giving me the privilege to represent the charity at the Virgin Money London Marathon 2017. Unfortunately, my ballot entry was unsuccessful, so if it wasn’t for them, I would not have been able to complete my personal goal of doing the London Marathon before I hit 30.

As I mentioned before, I chose ANTRUK for personal reasons, but there is no other charity I would want to do this for! If you look at all the other big charities at the Marathon, they have tens, hundreds, and maybe even thousands of people running for their causes. ANTRUK is new and pushing the incredibly important issue of AMR. They have many great goals to achieve – from finding new antibiotics, to changing our habits with antibiotics, so they need all the support they can.