Running the London Marathon

20 February 17

written by:

Imogen Rowe

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Imogen Rowe's Fight for Sight story

Here I am, aged 18 and training for the Virgin Money London Marathon 2017. It will probably be the biggest and most daunting running challenge I will ever face and I’m sure such an incredible experience. I’m delighted to be running for a very worthwhile and personal cause, Fight for Sight, the eye research charity which means a lot to me.

In October 2013, I was diagnosed with keratoconus, an eye disease which causes the cornea to thin and bulge into a cone like shape, inevitably reducing and distorting vision significantly. I’ve since had collagen cross linking surgery, a relatively new procedure which halts the progression. However, I can’t get back the vision I have lost. Currently there is no cure and whilst there are good treatments available, these are limited. It’s tough to live with basically no vision in my right eye and this has had a profound negative affect on day to day life such as being able to drive and just seeing things from a distance. Glasses don’t work and I’m trying to get the hang of contact lenses, but this is a lengthy, frustrating process.

Fight for Sight funds pioneering eye research to prevent sight loss and treat different eye conditions in adults and children. Each year, they provide a range of funding opportunities for research teams based in the UK. Without support, they wouldn’t be able to come up with new treatments and cures for eye conditions.

Not everyone will know that I was born with dyspraxia, a condition that affects different aspects of my life including coordination, speech, fine and gross motor skills and balance. When I was a baby my parents got told devastating news - I may never walk. My poor balance and low muscle tone meant I was unable to sit up when I should have been progressing. My twin brother was walking and talking before me, doing all the things I couldn’t do. 

After going through a lot of physiotherapy, with my determination I started to sit up and then walk. I believe my tenacity with running and with other challenges I face stems from those early days. Having this difficulty has made me ambitious, strong willed and able to persevere when times get tough. 

Running has proved to be very beneficial to my mental health; it gets me through some dark times in my life, so to have the big challenge of the marathon to train for has been a good focus and distraction from other tough situations in my life. It has been quite challenging to go out sometimes in the cold and dark, but those feel-good endorphins when I get back are always worth it.  

As the miles build up it is getting tougher and tougher physically and mentally, but I know all this training will pay off, and the thought of race day as well as the charity and everyone supporting me is motivating me to carry on!

I have really enjoyed putting on local fundraising events in my community to raise money for Fight for Sight; organising and hosting the fundraisers including a coffee morning, raffle and tombola has been fun and, in addition, I have met new people through it and have chatted to people I normally wouldn’t otherwise, which has been great. It has really brought out the best in people and I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s support.

You can support Imogen’s fundraising mission by donating online. Keep up to date on her progress by following Imogen on Twitter

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