Heroes run in our family: Stuart Chalmer's story
Newbie marathon-fundraiser Stuart shares his story for Afasic
January’s fundraising hero is new to both running and fundraising. He tells us what inspired him to take on the challenge of running the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon and how he plans to raise £1,500 for Afasic in the process.
You've never been a serious runner before – what inspired you to take on the Virgin Money London Marathon?
My son has a condition called DLD (Developmental Language Disorder), and knowing the good work Afasic does to help families like mine that are affected by this disability, I knew I wanted to run for them. I applied, got a place and I haven't looked back since.
Can you tell us a little bit more about Afasic's work?
Afasic helps children and families affected by speech, language and communication difficulties such as DLD. Sadly Harry, my son, will be affected by his condition in the long term: putting sentences together, reading and writing are all difficult for him.
Being completely new to running, how have you approached training?
I've found Facebook really useful. I’ve joined running groups such as the Virgin Money Giving Running Family and have found the advice on there so useful. Seeing how experienced marathon runners structure their training and cope with setbacks has been pretty inspiring. I like the fact that there's no scaremongering, just personal advice about what works. It's easy to panic when you realise how far you have to run, but I’ve learnt it's not about your finishing time, it's about the finishing line. If you finish, that's a feat in itself.
Running 26.2 miles is just one of the challenges you have set yourself – you also have set yourself a target of raising £1,500. Have you ever fundraised before?
I haven't ever fundraised to this extent and, yes, it’s scary. I'm creeping just above half of my target now. Again, I’ve found the Facebook group useful. The best advice I’ve received is that you can’t just do one thing. I’ve got the Virgin Money Giving page – which is where most of the donations are made – but I've also got three collection boxes dotted around, one at work, one at Harry's school, one in his rugby club, and I’m also organising a few events.
What events have you found to be successful?
Over January I organised the Grand Stockley Park Virtual 5K. People paid a £5 entry fee and were invited to run 5k at their own pace between the 2nd and 31st January, with everyone who succeeds receiving a medal. I'm also putting a lot of resources into my quiz night, which is on the 1st of February in Greenwich Rugby Club. It's literally just after payday, so there’s no excuse! I also have a ‘name the football team’ competition going where people pay to pick a team and if it’s the one picked out the hat they win £100. I’m trying to have at least two different fundraising campaigns on the go at any one time. You've got to keep it going. You can't stop.
Anything else you think you found useful that you'd pass on to other runners?
I think it's just a case of believing in yourself. And if you do get injured, don't panic!
You can read more about Stuart’s fundraising journey and donate on his Virgin Money Giving Page. His quiz night is on 1st February at Greenwich Rugby Club.