Running the London Marathon for Brain Tumour Research

4 min read

On Sunday 23rd April, our Communications Officer Alexa joined 50,000 runners on the streets of England’s capital to take on the 2023 TCS London Marathon for Brain Tumour Research. Here’s what she had to say about the experience.

Monday 24th October. I’m sitting at my desk in the Brain Tumour Research head office, nervously checking my emails to see if I’m successful in the London Marathon ballot. At 1:40pm, the email lands in my inbox and as I click the link, those coveted words flash up on my screen: “You’re in!”

The five months that followed were some of the toughest and most gruelling, but also the most rewarding and enjoyable of my life so far. Running coach Lee Perry – who not only ran the marathon himself, but also offered his services to all Brain Tumour Research runners for free – told me right at the start of the process that marathon training is the hardest. And boy, was he right!

Marathon training takes over your life. It takes commitment to head out the door four times a week, no matter how tired you feel or how terrible the weather might be, and to give up every Sunday morning lie-in in favour of three to four hours running. Plus, there’s all the stretching, conditioning and strength training to get your body ready for the epic challenge you’re about to take on. 

Training through wind, rain and even snow

It’s a mental challenge too. There are times when you can’t imagine anything worse than lacing up your trainers and heading out for yet another 10 miles midweek. One bad training run can overshadow weeks of incredible training accomplishments. And you’re always thinking about your next run.

But now it’s all over, would I do it again?


The atmosphere on the day is indescribable and every moment was more than I hoped it would be. From waiting in the start area and chatting to fellow runners whilst shivering in the rain, to finally crossing the finish line on The Mall after five months of training, every single step was worth it.

Everyone tells you how amazing the crowds are, but they’re even more incredible than you can imagine. From start to finish, there wasn’t a moment of quiet. Thousands of people came out to cheer and clap and keep runners’ spirits high, despite the rain. The crowds really do carry you through.

I can’t put into words the feelings you experience along the course. Someone told me to keep my head up and keep smiling, even when it feels impossible. That was some of the most helpful advice I received. Chances are you might only get to experience this once in your whole life, so take every single moment in and enjoy it. I never thought I’d be running over Tower Bridge next to a man dressed as a rhino, but here I was.

Still smiling

Having said that, the waves of emotion do take over. There were multiple times when I was sure I was going to burst into tears and not even because I was in pain. It was realising that all that training, all those hours, all that dedication, came down to this. Looking around you and realising almost everyone is wearing a charity vest and taking on this amazing challenge for a cause they truly care about is incredibly powerful.

No words can describe the emotion of crossing the finish line and realising what you’ve just achieved. I’m not sure it’s even sunk in for me properly yet and I keep having to remind myself that I actually did it. I ran the London Marathon.

Relief after crossing the finish line

I’ve worked at Brain Tumour Research for three years and every day I’ve been inspired by the commitment and determination of our supporters, often in the face of the most devastating diagnoses. It’s impossible not to be motivated by their dedication to raising funds and awareness for the charity. I was incredibly proud to wear my pink vest and do my bit to help find a cure. Special shoutout to my colleagues who spent the whole day on their feet cheering for every single Brain Tumour Research runner and making sure there were snacks and drinks on hand post-race too.

If you’re thinking about entering the ballot for the 2024 London Marathon – don’t hesitate, just go for it. Put your name in the pot and, who knows, you might be amongst the lucky ones getting to take on this iconic and unforgettable event on Sunday 24th April 2024.

The 2024 TCS London Marathon ballot closes at 9pm on Friday 28th April. Find out more and enter here.

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