Encouraging the side-by-side approach to marathons
In 2016, I was asked by Sarah Ezekiel, who has Motor Neurone Disease, if I would push her in London’s first mixed-ability mini-marathon. Some of the Movement for Hope team and volunteers got involved and I had the privilege to assist her down the final stretch over finish line to participate in her first ever marathon experience.
Our team opted for the 5K race. It was a really fun experience and a wonderful race to be a part of – inspiring is an understatement. As an abled-body person, I was surrounded by people who were challenged in a variety of ways and able-bodied in some cases meant an invisible condition such as Chronic Pain. To see everyone pushing through their challenges and determined to reach the end of the race was great. Also, the general positivity and encouraging atmosphere made it a day to remember.
The following year I had the honour to push Chris D’souza, who has Multiple Sclerosis, in his first ever marathon. This time the course was more hilly, and it took three of us from Movement for Hope to take turns pushing him. We were pouring sweat by the end, but the joy we all had to complete the race was the best feeling. Chris made his fair share of jokes about the breeze in his face whilst we were assisting him (haha!), which made it that much more enjoyable.
The race’s slogan is side-by-side. We did have the feeling that our participation and the moments we all shared at the event was somehow unique – that for whatever reason, it was not ordinary for a race to be designed with togetherness in mind in this way – a collective effort for people who are able-bodied, need walking-assistance or wheel-chair users.
Click here to read a good article on Parallel London and the feasibility to include people of all abilities in the same races