Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tale Of Tragedy As London Marathon Remembered For More Than Charitable Efforts

Last Sunday I scrambled out of bed at what seemed like an ungodly hour to tune into the coverage of the 2012 London Marathon. Interviews with elite athletes hoping for a place in the London Olympics; celebrities; and then the normal, everyday folk who didn’t have the help of a personal trainer, running for a charitable cause close to their heart were broadcast. The atmosphere seemed almost infectious as hoards of people with the same goal scampered to the start line whilst remembering the reason they had decided to endure this 26.2 mile test.

I watched on in excitement. Throughout the day headlines scrolled across our screens of the various celebrities that had bravely completed the route, the 101 year old Indian runner, Fauja Singh, who had proven that anything is possible finishing the marathon in a time of 7 hours and 49 minutes. However few were aware of the 101 year old runner’s achievement, as the headlines were dominated by a tragic end to the London Marathon for one young lady.

30 year old avid fundraiser Claire Squires was undertaking the last mile of the London Marathon when she collapsed at Birdcage Walk. She died a short time later. She had raised £500 for The Samaritans, but news of her untimely death prompted an outpouring of condolences and public donations from people across all corners of the globe to her online fundraising page. Her fund currently stands at over £1 million, five days after her death. Claire, a hairdresser from Leicestershire, was described by family and friends as an ‘incredible, inspirational, driven person’. And this was undoubtedly evident from her fundraising efforts running the marathon in aid of the Samaritans, and in honour of her brother, Grant, who passed away in 2001 following a drug overdose; raising £1,886 for the Childrens’ Society by completing the 2010 London Marathon; and only last year raised £1,430 for the RAF Association by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. The outpouring of generosity this week reminds her family and friends that her fundraising efforts were not in vain, and that they can find solace in the support offered by all at this difficult time.

It is indeed a story which has touched not only the hearts of the UK, but the hearts of the world. We may not have known Claire Spires personally, but we all know someone who has ran a marathon, maybe you are a marathon runner, or maybe you’ve dreamed of being brave enough to register for one. It is a humane story to which we can all relate to. I know I can. I’m running the Belfast Marathon on May 7th, in nine days time. The Belfast Marathon will be by first marathon. It will be a culmination of my training to date, my physical ability but more importantly my mental strength, which will help me keep fighting until I see that finish line.
Claire Squires did not make that final mile, but her inspirational story touched us all. I know that I won’t be alone in saying this but when I do attempt to run the Belfast Marathon on May 7th, I will not solely be running the marathon for myself and the Irish Cancer Society, part of me will be running it for Claire too.

28 April 2012 - The Forgotten Irish Graduate