Amazing Jane swaps her books for trainers as she runs for Read for Good in her debut Marathon effort!

In October this year, Jane France made Read for Good history as the first person to complete the London Marathon for our charity. Jane laced up her trainers, and ran the marathon virtually, fundraising to bring brand-new books and spellbinding storytellers to children in hospitals across the UK. With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, imagination and stories in hospitals can bring the joy, relief and wonder that is so needed by families. Jane’s amazing endeavour raised over £1,000, with support from more than fifty different people. Jane has now shared her remarkable experience with us; read on to hear what it was like to run, raise and race for Read for Good! 

Tell us a little bit about you.

I always used to hate running and never thought I could do it, but a few years ago I decided to have a go at doing the “couch to 5k”. Something clicked and I was hooked! My goal at the end of the couch to 5k was to complete a parkrun on a Saturday morning. So off I went to Shrewsbury parkrun. I did it. I was so nervous, but it was such an amazing and positive atmosphere that I decided to carry on doing it each week.

During the day I am an Academic Intervention Lead at an autistic school in Telford and it’s the best job I’ve ever had – I love it! 

Where did your story with Read for Good begin? How did you hear about or get involved with the charity? 

I got involved with Read for Good as I saw what a great job they do with children in hospitals. I love reading books myself so it was a perfect combination. My school was also looking for a charity to support; reading is a huge part of our school, and we loved the idea of children in schools helping children in hospital.

Had you run a Marathon before? What made you decide to sign up to run the London Marathon in 2021?

I had never run a marathon before and never thought I could! However, last year myself and my friend Nat who I run with saw some members of our running club complete the London Marathon virtually. We got caught up in it and decided we’d love to have a day like that! 

We didn’t always think that though, especially when we were out early on a Sunday morning trying to battle through a 20 mile training run. (The coffee and cake at the end helped though)!

What made you choose to run the London Marathon for Read for Good?

I chose Read for Good as my charity as I was so impressed by all the good work they do. I wanted to choose a charity where I knew for sure any money I raised would help to make a difference! Being in hospital is a scary experience for anyone, but especially children, and I think Read for Good helps so much to make it less frightening, and add a bit of excitement and fun to the hospital stay. 

What was the entire experience like for you, from training to race day? How did it feel to participate virtually?

The training was great …to start off with. We trained for 20 weeks and to begin with the runs were short and the sun was out. Then as the weeks progressed the runs started getting longer, some days we’d be out running for 4 hours at a time and it was tough fitting it in with a full time job as well. 

However, just when we started to think it was really hard-going, we hit the tapering down week so the running eased off and we just had the big day itself to get through! 

We ran around Shrewsbury so we knew our route really well. The tough part was we didn’t have crowds cheering us on for the whole 26.2 miles and we didn’t have organised drinks stations, BUT we had a group of supporters of family and friends who were AMAZING! They knew our route so kept popping up at various points with drinks and motivation. We had our pal Penny with us too on her bike for the whole route so she had a backpack with emergency treats in for us.

We also had a couple of friends who turned up to run part of the route with us. My work colleague Pete had always planned to run the last 5k with us, but when he turned up we were behind schedule and he actually ended up having to run 15k with us. Poor Pete! 

The London Marathon event director Hugh Brasher predicted that this year’s race would be the most meaningful in history after an 889 day wait due to the pandemic. What did it mean to you to complete the event this year? 

It was amazing to be a part of it. It’s great to have races back generally. I missed parkrun when it wasn’t on so it’s great that it is back every Saturday morning. It’s awesome to have organised races back too, being caught up in the race-day build up and getting a medal at the end is fab.

How did it feel to cross the finish line? 

Crossing the finish line was a huge relief! I actually crossed the finish line THREE times as my watch, which was logging the distance, was running a bit behind Nat’s so I crossed the finish line with Nat but still had 2k to go. When I came around the corner the second time, they got the finish line banner out again so I ran through it a second time shouting “sorry guys, I’ve still got another 500 metres to go!” By the time I ran through the finish line a THIRD time I felt like I was really milking the attention.

How does it feel to be the first person to ever run the London Marathon for Read for Good? 

I was amazed to realise nobody had ever done it before; it’s a great honour to be the first person. I don’t want to say it too loudly as originally I said “never again” but, maybe I’m thinking I might have a couple more marathons in me.

What I’m really hoping though, is that it encourages more people to give it a go and raise money for Read for Good. Honestly, if I can do it, anyone can! 

Do you think knowing that you were running for a charity made any difference to your training and actually running the marathon?

I think running for a charity is a great thing to do because it helps to keep you training. The added responsibility makes you go out and run on days when you don’t really feel like it. It helps you stick to the training plan and it’s a great incentive knowing that you are helping to make a difference in other people’s lives.

What was your experience of fundraising for Read for Good like? Do you have any fundraising tips for future runners? 

You have to make the most of social media and never worry that you are posting too much. Just go for it, the more the better. And if you can put some quirky or humorous updates to catch people’s attention, that helps as well. I always tried to mention people individually as a thank you if they sponsored me too! 

For many people running the London Marathon is a bucket list event. What would you say to someone who was hoping to run the London Marathon 2022 or considering it for 2023?

Definitely go for it. Find a good training programme that suits your level of running and work commitments and go for it!