Marathon runners

The London Marathon took place on Sunday 28 April with many St George’s students among the 40,000 runners to complete the route.

Below medicine students Hannah Gyekye-Mensah and Edward Underwood discuss the charities they ran for, their reasons for doing so and how they managed to balance studying with training for the marathon.

Hannah Gyekye-Mensah

Second year Hannah ran for Angelman UK, previously known as ASSERT – the Angelman Syndrome Support Education and Research Trust. 

“I chose this charity as my oldest brother was diagnosed with Angelman syndrome at the age of three and the charity has supported him and my family ever since. My two main reasons for running for them was to raise awareness of Angelman syndrome as it is a rare condition and also because I felt like it could act as my way of giving back to the charity.

“In terms of balancing training, I would say it’s been difficult along with all my other commitments and also having a social life, but it’s definitely doable! Having never run a race further than a 5km race for life about eight years ago, I threw myself into the deep end and followed a 16-week training plan. It was easy to follow at first but as the runs got more intense it became harder, however it was nice to get into a routine. Getting up for runs soon became as familiar as brushing my teeth.

“I feel very blessed to have had a completely positive experience, as I know this is not the case for everyone. I would definitely say that running the actual marathon is the easier part of the process compared to the training as it’s an amazing experience to run whilst having hundreds of people cheering you on the whole way. Completing the marathon proved to me that anything is possible if you set your mind to it!”

Edward Underwood

Fourth year, Edward Underwood, chose to run for the marathon on behalf of the British Heart Foundation.

“The reason I chose the British Heart Foundation (BHF) was because my dad had a heart attack when I was 16 and was treated at St George’s. He nearly died here, I even said my goodbyes but miraculously he pulled through. It is a very odd experience training at the hospital my dad nearly died at twice but I feel a strong connection to the hospital. The BHF are putting in loads of research into heart disease and new medication is always coming out that can improve people like my dad’s quality of life. 

“Training while studying was a huge challenge, especially also trying to balance rugby. I used rugby to keep up my general fitness and then I also went on two runs during the week; one using interval training and one on Sunday being the long run, steadily building up the distance each week. Everyone sees you on the race day but nobody ever really sees the hours and hours you put into training, eating right etc. 

“This was my second marathon. I ran Edinburgh a few years ago but had a horrible day, I got really bad heat stroke at mile 20 and sadly had to walk the rest. I wasn’t happy with how the race went so I knew I had to do another one to make amends. I learnt a lot from my previous mistakes in terms of training, nutrition and having a race plan which all played a huge part in this race. 

“The last couple of days have been very sore to say the least but it's pretty nice being able to validate eating whatever you want. I often catch myself thinking, I have done it; but then partly missing it all now the journey is over. Hopefully I will be doing more races in the future but for the moment, I’m going to focus on my studies until graduation.”