John, from Halesworth in Suffolk, decided to run an incredible TWELVE marathons in the space of just twelve months after his childhood friend Bryan Hall and wife Georgie’s six-year-old Ollie died from MenB in October last year. The races, which take place all over the country including Ipswich, Edinburgh, and Richmond, will culminate with the London Marathon in April this year.
“After seeing the devastation to Bryan and Georgie and his younger brother Charlie by Oliver’s tragically sudden death from meningitis, I knew I wanted to do something,” John told us.
“I’ve never seen such loss and sadness.”
But while John will be running to raise money for Meningitis Now in memory of Ollie, he will also have his father in his heart on the day.
“I’m grateful that my twelfth and final marathon of the challenge will be at London 2019. It’s a special event for me not only because it was my first ever marathon but also because my father was dying of cancer at the time.
“I had to make the hard decision to run it as I knew that’s what he wanted. Luckily I was able to get back to him to show him my finisher's medal – but he died four days later.
“London 2019 will not only be a special end to the challenge but it’ll also be two years to the day since his passing. I’ll be running with both dad and Oliver in my heart – it’ll be emotional, that’s for sure!”
Fell in love with running
John only started running seriously four years ago after going through what he called a “pretty bad mental and emotional breakdown”. He said he fell in love with the sport, finding it to be very meditative as well as a way to gain space for his thoughts.
“It’s not that I stop thinking as I run,” he said, “but it helps untangle my thoughts and create space”.
However, his thoughts aren’t always untangled completely – as he found when he was rushing to get ready for one of his marathons earlier this year:
“I was staying at my sisters in Edinburgh and I left ironing my name onto the t-shirt until the night before.
“My sister joked that I must make sure to spell it correctly and I muttered something like “I’m hardly going to forget how to do that!” Oh was I wrong!
“I was concentrating on getting the letters lined up nice and straight so much that by the time I ironed the letters on permanently I had indeed spelled it wrong and the JONH t-shirt was born! I think this is how I’ll have my name on all my running tops from now on.”
Good luck JONH – we’ll be cheering you on for your epic twelve marathon challenge!
If you want to donate to John’s challenge, visit his fundraising page here.
The Virgin Money London Marathon public ballot results are in. If you are one of the lucky few to secure your own place, we would love for you to run for Meningitis Now. Unlike our charity place runners, we won’t ask you to make a fundraising pledge, but we will offer the same fundraising support and team benefits.