NYAS Independent Visitor and keen runner Andy Webster is taking on the 2021 London Marathon on 3rd October for vulnerable children and young people.

Here, he talks about exactly why he’s running, and how he feels about the big day.

Why have you decided to fundraise for NYAS?

I decided to fundraise for NYAS as I have been an Independent Visitor (IV) for around three years, and I believe that the work they do is essential. I have been matched with my current young person for two and a half years and we try to meet up every month. I’ve been lucky enough to be matched with a young person who enjoys activities that I do, including things such as go-karting and going to the cinema. As an IV, I have been able to act as someone outside of the care system and provide stability and continuity. We’ve built a good relationship and I always have a great time when we meet up.

Why did you choose to take on the London Marathon in particular?

The London Marathon is probably the biggest and most well-known marathon in the UK; I thought I’d apply through the ballot system just to see where I got. Surprisingly, on my first application I was offered a place and I jumped at the chance to take up the offer. Having previously run a couple of half marathons, I felt that I could challenge myself further by attempting a marathon. I’ll also be the first person in my family to run the London Marathon.

Are you new to running, or already a keen runner?

I started running about 10 years ago and have carried on as a regular challenge and due to the positive effects it has on my mental health. It’s a sport that anyone can take up and it doesn’t cost a lot to do – you just need some trainers, t-shirts, and shorts! For most people, including myself, on stepping out the front door you can literally run anywhere. It has allowed me to explore my local area and keep fit and healthy. I try to run at least three times a week but don’t necessarily set myself a distance or time, I just go as far as I am comfortable with.

How has training for the London Marathon gone so far?

My training has gone well, although I have missed a few weeks due to isolation after encountering someone who had COVID-19, as well as pulling my calf muscle. On both occasions it was particularly frustrating as I just wanted to get out and continue with my training. However, I slowly got back into training after my calf problem and have been able to catch-up on some of the training I missed.

I have followed a 16-week training plan provided by the London Marathon, which has involved running four times a week. It’s been tiring, but I can feel the improvements in my running, and I have enjoyed the longer runs. The longest run I’ve completed as part of my training is 18.5 miles and I’m now tapering down, in terms of distance and time, to make sure my body is ready for the marathon.

I was originally due to run the marathon in April 2020; however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been postponed twice. On the previous two occasions I got halfway through my training schedule before it was postponed. Hopefully, this time will be third time lucky!

How have you been raising money?

I am raising money through a JustGiving page. I have sent the link out to family, friends and work colleagues, hoping to raise at least £240, and I’ve now hit £280!

I’m hoping to complete the marathon in around four hours, and the idea of setting a target at £240 was that this would equate to £1 a minute. When the going gets tough on the day, I am hoping to use the money raised to inspire me and help me to remember why I’m doing it.

How are you feeling about the event?

I feel both excited and nervous about the event. Excited because I’m going to hopefully achieve one of my personal goals of running a marathon, which will be in front of large crowds cheering me on. Nervous because it is going to be a huge challenge and I know at some point along the way I am going to have to run through pain. However, it will be worth it when I cross the line and collect my medal. It will be something that I will always remember and can remind friends and family for years to come about my triumph, even if they’ve heard it all before!

Good luck, Andy! If you’d like to show Andy your support, you can do so by donating to his JustGiving page.

 Are you a keen runner like Andy? Could you go the distance for children in care? Sign up for ‘Your Marathon, Your Way’ to race a marathon in your time and on your terms. Every penny you raise will go towards supporting children and young people. Sign up here.