The runners' stories - their #ReasonToRun

London Marathon charity runners

The Virgin Money London Marathon is the world’s largest one-day fundraising event and more than 75 per cent of the 39,000+ runners will be raising money for charity on Sunday 23 April, adding to the incredible total of £830+ million raised in the first 36 years of the event.

Behind every runner is their own unique #ReasonToRun and here are some of their stories:

While most runners are concentrating on breakfast and getting to the Start Line at 07.30 on Race Day, Jackie Scully will be on the Cutty Sark preparing to make her marriage vows. She and her groom, Duncan, will then race to the Start Line at Blackheath with Jackie in a custom-made marathon-friendly wedding dress. Jackie had a congenital hip condition that eventually confined her to a wheelchair before she had her pelvis rebuilt in 2007.  Then, just three weeks after getting engaged, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a mastectomy. The couple are running to raise money for Breast Cancer Care and The Willow Foundation and to thank those who have helped her and Duncan back to happiness.

Back for his fifth marathon is Chris Arthey who, together with his wife, was in a life-changing road accident on a motorcycle holiday in 2008. Both lost their left legs and, after a long and painful recovery, the sport-loving couple were determined to get back to physical fitness. Chris is raising money for Leonard Cheshire Disability, which supports disabled people to fulfil their potential and live life as they choose.

A six-month deployment in the Gulf for the Royal Navy has meant Leading Medical Assistant Rachel Peel’s preparation has been exceptionally tough. She has been restricted to training on the 200m long flight deck and treadmills, making long runs particularly challenging. She is running along with a fellow member of the ship’s company, Daryn, a Petty Officer Marine, and they have plenty of support from other shipmates. Rachel is raising money for the Royal British Legion.

Judy Lewis (handicap 36.0) is running the London Marathon without either of her fibulas, which were used in reconstructive surgery after she was diagnosed and treated for a rare type of cancer Spindle Cell Sarcoma. In the space of three months Judy had to learn to walk, talk and eat again – twice over. Judy feels her running is about being alive and well, and never for one minute taking that for granted. She is raising money for the Charles Wolfson Centre for Reconstructive Surgery at the Royal Free Hospital.

Pippa Creasy’s husband Dr Terry Creasy tragically committed suicide four years ago following an acute battle with depression. Together with two of her children, Henrietta and Will, she is running with the Royal Foundation's Heads Together, the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon's Charity of the Year. The Creasys are fundraising for CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) which is dedicated to preventing male suicide - the biggest cause of death in men under the age of 45 in the UK.

Running to raise money for the Marfan Trust is Mike Horgan. His husband Glenn had lost two family members who had signs of Marfan Syndrome, (a genetic disorder that affects the body’s connective tissue) which resulted in Glenn being screened for the syndrome. Glenn was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm and had surgery in 2011. Three years later he had a stroke which continues to affect him today. The Marfan Trust has been a huge support to Glenn and other family members. Mike is running to raise money and awareness of Marfan Syndrome.

Francesca Balon is registered severely sight-impaired and is fundraising for Guide Dogs for the Blind because they changed her life. She had a difficult time at her mainstream school when her confidence was shattered through name-calling and exclusion. She stopped eating and started over-exercising. With help from her family, her GP and services from Blind Children UK, part of Guide Dogs for the Blind, Francesca is now at university. She said: “For a long time I refused to acknowledge my eating disorder, I still struggle but I’ve come a long way. I’m running to support Guide Dogs so they can continue to provide life-changing, vital support to others like me. We owe them so much.”

This is just a small selection of inspiring stories from this year’s runners. Read more here