Non Runner Gemma Morris 35 Was inspired to Run The Big six Marathons For Charity After Watching The London Marathon

I ’ve never been sporty. In fact, I was the one who always tried to get out of PE when I was growing up! Even as an adult, I did nothing at all active or sporty. But now, after taking up running just three years ago, I’m aiming to run every major world marathon (New York, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and Tokyo) by 2021. And I’m planning to do the six-day, 251km Marathon des Sables next year!

Non Runner Gemma Morris 35 Was inspired to Run The Big six Marathons For Charity After Watching The London Marathon Photo Gallery


It all started when I was watching the London Marathon in 2016. I saw the atmosphere and camaraderie and thought, “I want to do this!”, and applied straight away to run for Anthony Nolan* the following year. I chose this charity because my dad died of blood cancer in 2005, aged 62. He was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma in 2001 but, despite several rounds of chemo, it returned. His only hope of a cure at that stage was a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor. Anthony Nolan searched the stem cell register for a match, but my dad died before one was found. ‘I run to raise money and awareness for the charity, to give other people a chance to have a transplant. Blood cancer is the third biggest cancer killer in the UK. It costs Anthony Nolan £40 to add a new donor to the register and, most of the time, donating is similar to giving blood – you just need to be 16-30 and healthy (if you’re 31-55, contact DKMS; So far, I’ve raised £17,500 and I’d like to reach £20,000. After that, I might switch to helping the charity in other ways as my friends are getting tired of sponsoring me!’


When I first started running, I’d just eat, then lie on the floor when I got back from a run, but I got so stiff! Now, I’ve read up on what to do, but I don’t have a coach; nor do I belong to a running club. In fact, because of the unpredictable nature of my job as a flight attendant on private jets, I struggle to have a routine, but I always try to do a long run on a Sunday, wherever I am, even if I have to get up at 3am! My runs can be a good way to explore somewhere new if I’m away with work. ‘I’ve run the London Marathon three times now, and have ticked off the New York and Chicago marathons in the past couple of years, too. I’m planning to run the Berlin marathon in September, and will try to sign up to Tokyo when the ballot opens in August.

I tried to enter the Boston marathon last year, but all the places went in three minutes, so I’ll have to try even harder this year! ‘I’ve been lucky I haven’t had many injuries, but I ran the London Marathon this year with really bad shin splints. I’m never, ever going to be a fast runner, but I’m quite good at pacing myself at a slow speed and I do like to better myself – plus people kept asking when I was going to do the Marathon des Sables! – so I’ve said I’ll do it. I entered the London to Brighton Ultra as a practice, but have had to pull out because of the shin splints, so I’ll try the South Coast Ultra in the same series (, among some other shorter events, later in the year.’


In preparation for the ultras, I’ve started going to the gym a couple of times a week for some strength training and have bought a weight vest to mimic the 10K backpack I’ll have to carry during the Marathon des Sables. I also mix up my running training by varying the distance and speed. I eat plain pasta for three days before a big event to fuel me and not tax my stomach, and I’ve got better at making sure I eat sufficient protein and drink enough fluids. I follow endurance runner Susie Chan on social media – I find her really inspiring and also pick up some training tips. Funnily enough, I’ve inspired my cousin and some of my colleagues to take up running, too. I think they think, “if she can do it, so can I”! ‘What would my dad think of me now? He’d probably think I was bonkers, but I hope he’d be proud!’

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