From Shirking School Runs To A Passion for Marathons

29th April 2024

Sanford House administrator, Michael Radbourne, completed his 5th marathon in London earlier this month, running to raise funds for Dementia UK. Michael shares the story of his love/hate relationship with running and how a rocky start on the cross-country trail turned into a life-long love for the marathon – with a few bumps in the road along the way!

“I’ve worked for Caring Homes for nearly 19 years, and it really does feel like home, especially as I grew up on the Norfolk coast in Cromer – less than 30 miles from Sanford House.

Run Michael, Run...

Running didn’t come naturally to me. When I was at school, I hated it and used to hide my kit to get out of cross country runs. Fast forward to 2006 when I took part in the Sports Relief Mile with my two children, hoping it would be something we could continue as a family. As is often the case, they both found things they liked more but for me, it sparked an interest in running. The following year I trained for a 10K in London to raise money for The Alzheimer’s Society and I never really looked back. Initially running was for fun but as time passed, it was also for fitness.

Back in 1981 I’d watched the first ever London Marathon on TV. I found it inspiring – more so than school cross country - and said to myself, “One day I’d like to do this.” At the time I didn’t act on it and when I developed asthma in my late teens, I thought that chance had gone. I was wrong.

My Marathon Journey

My marathon story began in 2008 when I ran London for the first time, raising money for Asthma UK (both my wife and I are asthmatic). I injured my knee crossing Tower Bridge so had to hobble the last 13 miles, but I did run when I could, especially when I saw I was being beaten by the Mr Men!

The following year I tried the Edinburgh Marathon, but the organisers ran out of water on a hot day, so that hampered my efforts. I returned to London in 2013 but got a chest infection a month before. I’d already deferred my place from 2012, so it was run slowly or lose my place. I ran very slowly. Then in 2016, while running one evening, I had a heart attack. I was rushed to the local hospital and had a stent fitted within hours. My only question afterwards was would I be able to run a marathon in the future. They said yes - much to my wife’s annoyance!

In 2021, I booked a place on the Brighton Marathon. I took it steady and had no issues, even though I found out afterwards the course had been set up incorrectly and was actually a third of a mile too long.

This year, having tried to get a ballot place for every year since 2014, I finally got the opportunity for my third attempt at London - my 5th marathon - and I began training seriously in January. I lost 4 weeks out of my 16-week plan though illness and injury, but I know that although planning is important, you also have to listen to your body and adjust when needed. I’ve certainly never felt that I should give up, but a touch of magic is always a welcome boost. As it was my wife’s birthday, we combined collecting my race number with a visit to the Disney 100 Exhibition. I asked the fairy godmother to grant my wish to run the marathon – and to finish it!

On race day, I was aiming for 5 hours 30 and stayed on pace for about 21 miles. Then things got very hard, and I slowed, finishing in 5 hours 37 minutes 11 seconds. It was still 12 minutes faster than my previous best at London so I’m happy - and it was a great day.

I’ve had incredible support from everyone at Sanford House for my running and I was pleased to present the winner of the ‘run time sweepstake’ with her prize a few days ago. An added incentive this year was a new resident. One of his proudest moments was competing the London Marathon 40 years ago. We both enjoyed a chat about his exploits that day and I even managed to get hold of a copy of the 1984 results magazine for him, which he didn’t have. I also took a picture of our medals side by side. Sadly, he passed away the week before the race, so I added the 1984 London marathon badge to my vest in his honour.

I was inspired to raise money for Dementia UK by a team from Sanford House, who completed a 4x5k relay for the charity last October. At Sanford we see daily how cruel dementia can be, so it seemed the natural choice to continue supporting them with this run. I’ve come a long way from the reluctant runner of my schooldays - I’m already booked in for my 6th marathon in Manchester next year - and although marathon running (and training) is always challenging, it’s also a labour of love.”

Michael’s fundraising page is still open so if you would like to give your support to Dementia UK and acknowledge Michael’s achievement, you can donate here.

Discover Sanford House Nursing Home in Norfolk

Sanford House Nursing Home provides residential, nursing and specialist dementia care in a bright and comfortable environment, surrounded by lovely gardens. The home offers care that is tailored to individual needs, interests and preferences, and a team who are committed to delivering the very best. If you would like to learn more about the types of care and services available from Caring Homes, please visit our website page. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or would like to learn more.

Michael in the race - image provided by Sportograf
1984 and 2024 medals
Commemorative running vest

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