This blog is written by Nick Morgan, who raised funds for Plastic Oceans UK in last year’s London Marathon. 

Hi there, my name is Nick Morgan and on April 28th 2019, I took part and completed the London marathon in a time of 03:53:10 and in the process, managed to raise £1,217 for Plastic Oceans UK.

My marathon journey started back in July 2018 when I had recently relocated to London for work and was living with my sister and brother-in-law. Andy (my brother-in-law) is a keen runner and had been applying to enter the London Marathon via the ballot (this did not require the participant to raise money for a selected charity) for 5 years with no luck. He’d mentioned he had applied for the 2019 marathon and I though “why not” so I also entered the ballot for the first time. 8 months later I received an email “Congratulations you’ve won a place to run in the 2019 London Marathon!” I was utterly shocked!

To give you some idea, in 2018 more than 400,000 people entered the ballot and 17,500 are given a ballot place, that’s 1 entry for every 23 applications. The remaining 23,603 places are made up through charity places. Some places require the participant to raise in the region of two thousand pounds for their chosen charity, such is the popularity of the event. Andy took the news on my place very well, even more so, considering he was the main reason why I applied. He was a great support, sharing his training tips and helping me decide which running shoes to invest in. I ended up with the Adidas Ultraboost’s, and while I am not getting paid to say this, they were a really great pair of running shoes. They are light but also very resilient and my feet settled very quickly into using them.

Whilst completing the marathon is a personal achievement of mine, there is a rich history of people competing in such events and commit not only their time to training but also fundraising for incredibly charities, who rely heavily on donations. After securing my place my next thought turned to raising money. I knew I wanted to raise money for a charity who could connect with a number of people I was going to ask for donations. I felt my decision needed to support a cause which I was personally passionate about and people from all walks of life could identify with. I was also keen to find a charity who could provide a better future for all, one that was current, but one that was also incredibly important. Although there are thousands of charities supporting fantastic causes, I could only pick one, and I wanted to make sure it was going to have as much of a big impact as possible.

Having spent some time researching the event I became inspired by the stories behind the people who had completed the 26.2 miles distance. Interestingly, the reason why a marathon is 26.2 miles is because Queen Alexandra at the London Olympics back in 1908 requested the distance was adjusted so the royal house could see the race from Windsor Castle. Prior to this, the distance was 25 miles – at least I know now who to blame in those closing meters, when the pain really digs in! Continuing on with my research, I have always been a keen viewer for the nature documentaries, largely produced by the BBC with Sir David Attenborough narrating (Blue Planet was truly incredible!). In recent years the issue of plastic in our oceans has grown, it has grown from being a nuisance, to now entering the food chain. Scientists have found micro plastics in the smallest sea creatures, whilst the implications of this are not fully known yet, in my view this can only be a bad thing.

With this in mind, I began my search online for a charity which addressed the issue of plastics in our oceans. I came across Plastic Oceans UK and got in touch with them, after speaking to the founder Jo Ruxton on the phone I knew I had found the right charity. Their work is not just about taking the plastic out of the ocean but attempts to address the issue at source and stop it from even entering the oceans in the first place. I think it is brilliant they are involved lobbying governments to implenment new policies for the future, and even going into schools to help the next generation understand what impact we as a human race are having on the planet. From this point on asking for sponsorship money was a very easy sell and the response I had was incredible. Many of my friends and family were quick to comment on its value and purpose.

Reaching £1,217 was a target beyond what I had initially expected. But I can confidently say there is enough engagement out there to turn around the future of our oceans. I have even thought about my plastic use and for my training invested in a water backpack so that I did not train using ‘one use’ plastic bottles. There were even new edible energy pods given out at the race, in an attempt to cut down on the plastic waste. I really feel like there is serious momentum behind Plastic Oceans UK and am very excited to see what they can achieve, and hopefully I can get involved myself in some capacity again.

I would strongly recommend anyone reading this to enter into the ballot for the next available London marathon. I can understand why it has the reputation of being the best marathon in the world, the entire route is lined with people cheering you on. From volunteers waiting to pass you water, to small children waiting to give you sweets. The spirit of the whole event is magical, it’s a shame it is only once a year! (Or maybe not as it was very painful…!) I have not experienced anything like it before, and it made all the long hours training, the healthy diet, cutting out alcohol all very much worthwhile.

I hope now that I have been the first to represent Plastic Oceans UK at the marathon there will be others who to decide to follow in my footsteps too. You can enter the next year’s London Marathon by visiting: https://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com/en-gb/how-to-enter/