Doing it for Dad – Sussex runner takes on her own London Marathon alternative
Mum of two Alison Mason is running 26.2 miles from Nutley to Peacehaven to raise money for Kidney Research UK and celebrate her dad, who lives with kidney disease. The rolling Sussex hills will be Alison’s substitute for the iconic sights of the capital as she completes her virtual Virgin Money London Marathon this Sunday, 4 October.
The 40-year-old runner has shrugged off her disappointment at the usual London Marathon not taking place this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and having to make her own route. Instead, her love for her dad and her determination to make a difference for others with kidney disease has kept her going through 10 hard months of training.
For the past six years Alison’s dad Roger has been reliant on dialysis to stay alive. For three days each week he goes to hospital for his morning dialysis, and then, left exhausted by the procedure, he has to sleep when he gets home.
‘My mum has struggled with feeling like they’ve been robbed of their older years together,’ explains Alison. ‘They were enjoying their retirement, going on cruises and travelling. But dialysis has changed everything. He’s still the kindest, most wonderful man, but obviously it takes its toll. Some days he’s good, some day’s he’s not so good.’
Being a vulnerable kidney patient, Roger and Alison’s mum Elsie have had to take careful precautions during the pandemic, shielding for the full 12 weeks, Alison says.
‘We didn’t see each other for a very long time. I was particularly worried about my parents, with Dad having to go into hospital. I hadn’t seen them for a very long time, then I went down and I just stood on their doorstep. It was really hard not to give them a hug, but the thought of hugging my parents and then passing something on if I was carrying Covid without knowing, that would just be devastating. It’s reduced me to tears quite a few times, thinking gosh, if Dad catches this, that’s it.’
Support from friends, family and the community has helped Alison raise over £2,100 for Kidney Research UK, and has buoyed her spirits: ‘We’ve spread the word for Kidney Research UK and the amount of strangers that have said to me, “This is amazing, my family member has suffered from kidney failure, here, have some extra donations,” it’s just been staggering.’
Her route for her virtual marathon on Saturday takes her from Nutley, through Ringmer and Lewes and Falmer. She is looking forward to being joined for the last few miles by her brothers Alan and Kevin, who have both picked up their own running training to support their sister’s marathon effort. They plan to cross a virtual finishing line together in Peacehaven, cheered on by only a select number of family members, in order not to break the Covid-19 restrictions.
‘It’s going to be quite emotional, the three of us running along, then we’ll be able to meet our parents at the end. I usually cry at the end of a run anyway!’ says Alison. ‘Just knowing that I’m doing it for my dad and I’m doing it for Kidney Research UK, that’s going to get me through the hills.’
To support Alison’s marathon effort, visit her Virgin Money Giving fundraising page.