Abbie's Journey - London Marathon 2016


In 2011 and 2012, UK Youth supported Abbie Dewhurst to develop a young reporters scheme as part of our Social Action programme. Since then Abbie has gone on to work for the BBC and inspire many more young people to develop confidence and writing skills. This year Abbie ran the London Marathon on behalf of UK Youth and raised almost £2,500 to support our vital work. Here's her story...


1. Why did you choose to run for UK Youth?

UK Youth have supported me and my scheme, The Young Reporters through through their Social Action Project. With £1,700 of funding from UK Youth, we have managed to expand the scheme and empower more and more young people to become young reporters. The Young Reporter group changed my life and gave me the confidence to follow my dreams of working in the media industry. As UK Youth has helped us to help tons more young people, I am determined to give something back and do whatever I can to help them.


2. How did you find running the London Marathon 2016? (Race day experience)

Running London Marathon was more amazing than I could ever have imagined…I felt like I was part of a this massive team all going through this incredible journey together.

People had said to me before the race, 'the crowd will carry you through' and I knew they would help but I never knew just how amazing they would make me feel. Hearing random strangers shout your name and cheer you on as if they were your family as well as handing you sweets and oranges and chunks of pear (!) literally carried me.

Bands playing, music blaring, choirs singing - whatever was going on it worked as I managed to run the whole first 15 miles without stopping and without even thinking about how much my legs hurt. The final 11 miles were tough, I'm not going to lie but getting ever closer to that finish line where I knew my family and the UK Youth team would be just kept me going.

Taking it one mile and 5 jelly babies at a time, I crossed the finish line in 5 hours 42 minutes and 31 seconds…and then burst into tears! I'm pretty sure they were of joy or pride or relief…nothing bad - it's just the most amazing, emotional experience and I'm so proud that I could be a part of it for UK Youth. 


3. What can runners expect/be aware of on race day?

You can expect to have the most amazingly memorable day of your life but be prepared to dig deep and find motivation you never knew existed. I can't describe the aches and pains you feel towards the end of the race - I've never quite felt anything like it but it's all so worth it when you cross the finish line.

You can expect to laugh, cry, scream, shout, eat tons of sweets, suck some weird lucozade gel (ew!!), feel guilty throwing nearly full bottles of water onto the streets and lose all motivation when a man dressed as a t-rex runs past you but all in all have the best day of your life. 


4. What are your top 5 training tips?

1) Find what works for you - I started following a strict programme running 3 times a week with sprints included and it just didn't suit my body or my lifestyle. Towards the end I went on one long run a week and if I had time a shorter one mid-week run and I enjoyed it.

2) Buy some good trainers as soon as you can - and expect to pay a lot of money for them. Sorry!!

3) Pay attention to what you eat before a run and leave a good gap before you head out the door - it makes a huge difference to how you'll feel and how long you'll be able to go for.

4) Variety is the spice of life - run with friends, run alone, try a podcast, get a good playlist, drive to the beach, take your shoes to work and run home, sign up to park run, don't plan a route - go where your run takes you…just change it up - running a long way alone can be quite boring so do everything you can to mix it up!

5) Listen to your body - if parts hurt, they're probably hurting for a reason and the more you put pressure on them, the more damage you will do. If you're feeling amazing one week, have 3 or 4 runs or run that little bit further and in the same breath if that niggling knee pain isn't going away, have a week off - you're trying to finish the marathon, not win it, remember. 

5. Please tell us a bit about your London Marathon 2016 fundraising experience?

I knew that taking on the challenge to raise such big amount of money would not be easy and I absolutely hated the idea of just constantly asking friends and family for money so I decided to make a few films in order to make the idea more enjoyable and entertaining for everyone involved. This provoked quite a few sponsors initially and then came the hardcore ideas.

So many of my friends and family pay to get their nails done on a regular basis and my sister has always done nail art in her spare time so I decided to set up a manicure marathon where 100% of the profits went to UK Youth. This was great as, not only were people getting something in return for their sponsors, it was also a really fun social event. So fun that we did it twice!!

… family and I did various name cards with hampers and goodies up for grabs which collected us a big chunk of sponsors.

I think a combination of keeping people updated in a fun and amusing way through blogs and videos and showing the real struggles involved meant that people were more willing to support me nearer the time as they could see the blood, sweat and tears (literally) that went into my London Marathon journey. 


6. What are your top 5 fundraising tips?

1) Think outside the box - people are being asked for their hard earned cash from charities left, right and centre nowadays so you need to hold and event or take an approach that is different and that makes people want to be involved.

2) Try not to put too much pressure on yourself - if you're putting the work in and have enough time and ideas, it WILL happen so try to relax and just enjoy it.

3) Avoid posting too much on social media - people will just get fed up and stop paying attention. I took the approach of doing something a bit more creative - making films, writing blogs etc and putting my link at the end of it so that even if I hadn't seen or spoken to people directly, they still felt they knew how my training and fundraising was going.

4) Try to get some support from a familiar face - it took me FOREVER but through pulling a few strings and using a few contacts, I managed to get Greg James from Radio 1 and Jeremy Vine from Radio 2 on my first marathon film - they then shared some of my content on social media which helped spread the word. In order to achieve this you need to be persistent but avoid pi**ing people off!

5) Try to explain what the charity and what the money raised could do - obviously don't write pages and pages of information but if people know what kind of difference their money could make, they will be more willing to part with their cash. Try to be creative with it so as not to sound like a page from wikipedia. 


7. What would you say to those who are thinking about running in the London Marathon for UK Youth?

In the words of Nike - Just Do It! If you're not sure about it, then sign yourself up anyway - you will be amazed what your body and your mind can do if you set yourself the challenge. I had a personal connection with UK Youth which made the evening runs in the rain and the early mornings cleaning out our garden shed for fundraising well worth it so attend an event or try to meet some of the people who have been positively affected by the charity - it will give a whole new meaning to what you are trying to achieve. 


8. Any other feedback:

I'd just like to say a big thank you to UK Youth for all the support since day one. I'm extremely proud and grateful to have run the London Marathon for you and hope that the money raised makes a big a difference to someone else's life as my initial funding did to mine.


Feeling inspired?

Sign up to run the London Marathon 2017 for UK Youth today and help thousands more young people become a positive force for change. Simply email if you have any queries or want to use your ballot place to run for us.

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