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Mission Accomplished: Women's Section's first London Marathon runners cross the line

Posted: Jun 26, 2014
Category: General
Posted by: Admin


On a bright and sunny morning, Chrissie Cox and Daryl Williams pulled on their Women’s Section running vests, laced up their well-worn trainers and made their way to the start-zone: armed with determination and focus.

As excited as they were, they also admitted to feeling a bit nervous on their way to the start-line at Blackheath on 14 April. Faced with the challenge of running a whopping 26.2 miles at the second largest running event in the UK, it is no wonder their stomachs were churning! Chrissie, Chairman of the Military Wives & Girlfriends Branch of the Women’s Section, and Daryl, former Women’s Section Head Office employee, were joined by around 36,000 runners taking part in the largest fundraising event in the world. Since the race began in 1981, runners have raised more than £600 million for charity. The Royal British Legion Women’s Section was privileged to have Daryl and Chrissie run for them as their first London Marathon runners.

They were shuttled through their coloured start-zone, crossed the line and they were off! The route took them through the streets of London, lined with supporters cheering them on. The atmosphere was incredible with a “street party sort of vibe” and an amazing sense of camaraderie between the runners.

As well as the great atmosphere was the inescapable pain. Chrissie’s run was a particularly painful experience as she injured her knee at mile 10 after tripping on a water bottle left by another runner. What is amazing Chrissie Cox London Marathon 2014about her race is that she was not only running for those the Women’s Section aims to help but that she helped other runners along the way. At mile 8 a lady fell in front of her so rather than focus on her own race, Chrissie waited with the runner until a medic appeared. The pain from her injury was so great that at miles 15 and 18, Chrissie thought she was going to have to give up. What kept her going was the knowledge of how much money had been raised to sponsor her. She worked out it was around £170 per mile and the thought of that, pushed her through. Despite the pain, the highlights for Chrissie were going over Tower Bridge and seeing Chelsea Pensioners at mile 25. One of the best feelings was definitely crossing the finish line after such a dramatic course. Chrissie said, “I was in absolute agony but it was an amazing feeling!” Proud for getting herself to the end, she picked up her medal and marathon goody-bag and met her husband. They sat down and she burst into tears (of relief). “Then I nearly cried when I tried to stand up again!” she said laughing.

Having never run a marathon before, or any length of race, this was something Chrissie had wanted to do this since the age of 15 – she fancied the challenge. Why the Women’s Section? Chrissie said, “I wanted to fundraise for a charity who I knew would use wisely any money raised. I also wanted to be able to help other military wives”. Chrissie raised an incredible £4.5 thousand in total for the Women’s Section. A truly remarkable achievement.

Daryl described the race as being psychological as well as physical. Every inch of your body is telling you stop and it is all down to what goes on in your head as to whether you pull out or keep going. He said he had to choose to not think about the pain and concentrate on his pace. Highlights for Daryl were seeing his family en route and when children came out of the crowds to tap hands with him as he ran along. Other than his training, it was the support, sponsorship and comments on Facebook that kept him going. “You think of all those who have support you and that carries you to the line”, said Daryl. London Marathon Crowd 2014He completed the marathon in his fasted time yet: 3 hours and 39 minutes. Not satisfied with a personal best, he was disappointed he missed his target by 9 minutes! What was the first thing Daryl did after collecting his medal? Go for a pizza and mint tea – he said he wasn’t up to beer at that stage!

Having previously run 3 marathons, Daryl is not stopping at this his fourth. He has places for the Berlin Marathon in September and Chicago in October. Daryl will continue to run for the Women’s Section and chose this charity because of his time at Head Office. Having seen the work we do and the commitment of our volunteers, Daryl said he wanted to support the Women’s Section in some way.

Why is Daryl doing this? It is a physical and mental test for him. Such extremes challenge your character. “You come out stronger when you put yourself through such a tough process, you feel sharper” he said. It’s of course not just about the race itself but the training involved to get him there. The Women’s Section Head Office witnessed Daryl’s commitment first-hand. At 5pm he would regularly swap his work clothes for ‘training gear’ and run from the office in London Bridge to his home in Essex!
If you would like to sponsor Daryl, you can do so by visiting his Virgin Money Giving Fundraising Page at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/DarylWilliams. So far he has raised nearly £600; another £400 and he will reach his target of £1000.

Chrissie and Daryl’s achievement is truly inspirational; watch this space for whoever takes the baton next!