Caryn took part in the 2021 Virtual London Marathon. She talks about her experience and why she decided to join #TeamRetinaUK below.
“When I came across Retina UK’s advert for the 2021 Virtual London Marathon, I had just recently taken medical retirement from my job, and needed a project, something I could focus my energy on, and maybe increase my fitness levels at the same time. I had always loved the idea of completing a marathon but with my sight loss, I knew I wouldn’t enjoy an ‘in-person’ marathon, so the opportunity to participate in a virtual event was absolutely perfect for me. My husband Mark had already completed other marathons over the years, raising almost £10,000 for Retina UK, so I knew he would jump at the chance to get involved again. Retina UK was a lifeline for me from the point of diagnosis, in providing me and my family with information on my eye condition and their commitment to supporting research encouraged us to fundraise for them.
We live rurally and we initially planned one large loop route, but a few weeks before the race, we realised we needed to rethink this plan or it was going to be a long lonely day! So instead, we changed to doing a smaller 3 mile loop past our house multiple times. This was the best decision we made – it meant my guide dog could join us for part of the route, and family members could base themselves at our house to cheer us on every 3 miles. We were able to leave drinks and rain jackets with them, and grab what we needed each time we passed by. By raising awareness of what we were doing on social media, we had lots of local support and encouragement – from cars tooting, to being given drinks, snacks and sponsor money on the go, to different people joining us for one or more of the loops.
It was just amazing to raise as much money as we did. My initial target amount was set much lower, but we very quickly passed it! I think it really helped that we used all our social media platforms, and posted weekly training updates with photos and route maps, with a countdown to marathon day, along with the Retina UK and London Marathon hashtags and the all-important link to our online fundraiser. On marathon day, our daughter took over our social media, posting progress photos and mile updates, again with the link to the fundraising page.
I loved every part of this event. The support from family and friends made it feel really special and the race app was fantastic. It really made us feel as though we were part of a big event.
If you’re interested in taking part with#TeamRetinaUK visit get in touch.