Meet Our 2019 London Marathon Team

Every year we welcome a wide-range of runners to our Ability Bow Virgin Money London Marathon team.  

Whether a first-time participant or experienced runner, head of a company or student, aged 70 or 25; we love to see what our marathon runners can do for us and for the people we support with disabilities and long-term health conditions.  

Take a look at the positive, amazing and heart-warming stories of our 2019 team below and find out how you can support their cause to raise vital funds for Ability Bow, inner London’s only disabilities and long-term health conditions gym. 

Well done team Ability Bow! 

Koji Noda, Trader, 71

Donate to Koji and Ability Bow now>>

Koji's Health Story

Ability Bow is really close to my heart. When I was 60, I was struck by a car at a pedestrian crossing and rushed immediately to hospital by ambulance.  

Fortunately, my injury was only an external wound, though I needed 4 months to recover; but 6 years later I experienced a blood clot in my left leg which left me unable to walk for a year.  

Koji’s Recovery 

But thanks to the exercise recovery work I did in Japan, while not perfect, I was able to walk and more importantly, run, again, after 18 months. I never gave up thinking I’d run again during this time; it’s my hobby and life.  

Marathon Experience 

I’ve always loved running - I've run 11 - and while my condition impacted my life, like Ability Bow, I always believed I could stil do it. So I thought about tackling new challenges and decided to sign up to become part of the Abbott World Marathon Majors series, where I’ve completed some of the world’s most spectacular courses (including Tokyo, near where I live).  

Thoughts About The Day  

This year’s Virgin Money London Marathon challenge will be my final of the Abbott series and what I love about running is the chance to make many new friends. I really hope to make more new friends after this year’s marathon and I’m just doing the best I can to make this a great personal year and one where I can raise as much money as I can for Ability Bow.  

Why Koji Is Running For Ability Bow 

It really is an honour to run for charity this year for Ability Bow. This gym does such amazing work for heling people to recover both physically - including areas like cardio - and through its wonderfully specialist gym equipment and for the mind too. I know if I’d have had this service in Japan after my accident and blood clot, it would have further enhanced my recovery.  

The staff team have been terrific with me too so far and I can’t recommend supporting and working with Ability Bow highly enough!  

From personal experience, I know places like Ability Bow are hard to find and can be truly life-changing.  

Grace Ranola, Associate Publisher, 26

Donate to Grace now>> 

Why Grace Is Running for Ability Bow 

As fitness means a lot to me - confidence, resilience and community-wise - I feel privileged to run the London Marathon and really want to give back to those who experience exercise barriers; including at Ability Bow. 

Ability Bow resonates with me personally as I once remember running with my brother and an older man shouting after us saying they wished they could run like us. I often remember him when I’m struggling to run, as while it might be hard, I can at least do it, and, do it for those at Ability Bow who may not have the chance.  

Ability Bow means a lot to me. What stands out for me from the incredible recovery stories I’ve read is more how people go on to achieve some amazing results outside of, and because of, the gym.  

It’s clear Ability Bow equips people it supports with confidence and mental strength to live fuller, happier lives. Essentially, I really want to run for Ability Bow, to:  

  • Support the passion the charity has in giving people the help they need to exercise
  • Be a part of helping members to turn their lives around  

Marathon Experience and Training Tips 

This year’s marathon will be my first ever and I couldn’t be more excited (particularly as I’ll be running with my favourite running partner, my Dad).  

I’ve completed various half marathons, a Tough Mudder and a Rough Runner event; but a marathon is a huge step-change and fortunately I’m finding the challenge more motivating than daunting (for now anyway!).  

Some of my specific training and preparation routine (which may also be useful tips for other runners), includes:  

  • Attending a weekly aerial hooping/trapeze class to mix things up 
  • Utilising my work’s basement gym a couple of times a day for circuits and weight classes (maybe see if your workplace has one too?) 
  • Slightly developing my run frequency – including doing one longer run, eg a mile extra, each week (the incremental extra mile approach helps me because it never feels like I’m asking too much of myself 
  • Having a realistic running plan (including finding some running buddies if you can) 
  • Motivate and reward yourself with the occasional treat (I’m a big chocolate brownie fan)  

Thoughts About The Day 

I’m so excited to be running my first ever marathon specifically for Ability Bow!  

For me, fitness is as much about having a healthy mind as a healthy body and it means a lot that Ability Bow supports that principle and I’ll be embodying that feeling from when I’m at the starting line.   

It really means the world to me to be running for Ability Bow on the day and I’d recommend anyone supports this charity, as fitness brings so many benefits and means it’s easy to understand how your contribution might transform the lives of those supported by the gym. 

Shakil Miah, PE Teacher, 29

Donate to Shakil now>>

Why Shakil is Running for Ability Bow 

I’ve chosen to raise money for my local community gym Ability Bow, which is determined to remove exercise barriers and meet needs of everyone with a disability or long-term health condition.   

I want to run the London Marathon for Ability Bow - what I believe is inner London’s only disability gym - to:   

  • Give back to the area where I grew up in  
  • Support a really caring service who offer exceptional fitness services to all  

Marathon Experience and Training   

I’ve run many marathons and half-marathons worldwide and within the UK to raise funds for various causes, but when I found out about Ability Bow, I knew this was a great cause to generate donations for.   

I recently ran the adidas City Run 10k Fulham race to generate some donations for the gym and I’ve also been spending time training for this event and others and will now focus from this January onwards on all the necessary strength, cardio and distance work I need to do (including aiming for running 30 miles per week).   

Thoughts About The Day  

I really can’t wait to be at the starting line for Ability Bow in April and I’m so glad to have chosen to run and raise money for this amazing charity.   

It will mean the world to represent the gym and its members from Greenwich Park to the Mall on the 28th April and this is an event where everyone can come together to make a real difference to people globally and in my case, for those just around the corner.    

Oli Slot, Head of Marketing, 27

Donate to Oli now>> 

Why Oli is running for Ability Bow 

Sport has always been a big part of my life and I’ve always believed it can help everyone. When I found Ability Bow, I was amazed at some of the stories I read from the work they’ve been doing.  

I’m delighted I’m able to run for Ability Bow and support the amazing work they’re doing.  

Considering I live very near to Ability Bow, I also feel a strong connection to my local community.  

What’s also great for me about running for Ability Bow, is:  

  • Supporting a gym which provides its members with a platform to socialise  
  • Helping gym members through my fundraising to achieve personal growth and use exercise as a medicine to get them up and active 

Marathon Preparation and Training 

Preparation is going well and I feel really confident in my running ability for the marathon.  

My focus is currently on:  

  • Maintaining a strict running and cardio schedule to maintain my fitness levels 
  • Managing my diet to account for extra exercise I’m doing for my training 

Thoughts About The Day 

I’m incredibly excited to be running for Ability Bow on the day and what will keep my focus throughout the marathon, is the knowledge everyday I have the chance to get up each morning to run or even just go to work.  

This will really spur me on to support those at Ability Bow who have long term health conditions or disabilities and who may not always be able to do these tasks for which a lot of us take for granted.  

But the can-do attitude Ability Bow has makes me ask anyone who is able to, to help raise funds for the amazing work they do, so even more people get the chance to join their service and change their own lives.  

Rachel Lommerzheim, Occupational Therapist/Case Manager, 32 

Donate to Rachel now>>

Why Rachel Is Running for Ability Bow

I’ve been involved with Ability Bow for a while - albeit indirectly - as I’ve referred many of my clients (as an occupational therapist and case manager specialising in brain injury rehabilitation), to Ability Bow.

So I wanted to become even closer to supporting great community services like this, as they make such a difference to the confidence, wellbeing and quality of life of someone living with a long-term condition.

What Makes Ability Bow Unique

I’m passionate about invaluable charities like this as I’ve worked with many clients who can’t visit regular gyms as they can’t access the building or use equipment.

Many of my clients also find regular gyms expensive, loud and overstimulating.

Ability Bow is different, as it offers:

  • Specialist accessible equipment and changing facilities
  • Expert gym sessions and tailored support
  • The mere chance of accessing a gym, which is so important to many of us

Essentially, I really want to run for Ability Bow, to:

  • Develop my marathon running experience
  • Champion places like them, as they enable community participation by removing restrictions
  • Extend my exercise capabilities and both physical and mental health and wellbeing

Marathon Experience and Training Tips

As I started running when I moved to London from sunny Perth, Australia in 2011 (I fell in love with London and have never wanted to leave!), I’ve since run a few half marathons; albeit I’ll be running my first London Marathon for Ability Bow this year.

Running and regular exercise has been so beneficial in helping me manage my anxiety symptoms I experience.

My preparation is going well so far and I’m following a beginner marathon training programme which has been really helpful (as it’s allowed me to gradually increase my miles and one of my goals is to make it to the starting line injury-free). Some of my specific training and preparation (as well as potentially some tips for others), include:

  • Running three times weekly
  • Completing two other strengthening and stretching-focused gym sessions
  • Managing my miles and different types of runs I need to be doing (I’ve been told by seasoned marathon runners to not up my miles too quickly and instead prioritise areas like stretching)

Fundraising Goals

Regarding fundraising, I’ve already raised more than £500 and my target is £1,500. I’ve arranged a few fundraising events to help me get there including a yoga session and a blind wine tasting event.

Any support (my donations link is at the top of my profile on this page), is so greatly appreciated; thank you!

Anita Evenden, Therapeutic Counsellor, 41

Donate to Anita now>> 

Why Anita Is Running For Ability Bow 

I'm proud to be running the Virgin Money London Marathon for the first time ever and, for Ability Bow. 

Given in the past three years I've trained as a therapeutic counsellor and have an interest in the value of exercise for mental health; I'm a mental health champion for my running club and a running fitness leader. 

This all means, essentially, I really want to run for Ability Bow, to: 

  • Share my passion of the gym and running and to help others
  • Support a fantastic charity which fits my health and physical activity accessibility passions

What Makes Ability Bow Unique

Firstly, I'm so grateful to be able to run for Ability Bow, as I'd overdone my training this time last year and really hurt my foot. That means I was unable to run for 10 weeks and had to defer until this year to run. Not everyone would give you the opportunity to do this, so I'm very thankful. 

Ability Bow gives its members so many opportunities to exercise and enhance their wellbeing and thus I'm very proud to represent them on marathon day. 

Marathon Experience and Training Tips 

I've recently had an extensive running experience. In 2015, I joined small local running club Zero to Hero in Bromley, south London, where I live. But at that time I'd been a complete non-runner and couldn't run up my road.  

I then completed a 10 week course where I continued to run 5k every week at my local Parkrun and the rest is history. 

Since then I've run several half marathons; and simultaneously my husband began running and the 'bug bit him' too. He's now run 14 marathons in the past 3 years and is running London in April this year too.

At the moment training is going well for the marathon for Ability Bow (I'm determined to start fit and healthy).  

Regarding tips for the marathon, I'd say: 

  • Take it steady if you can
  • Run with others in preparation to help boost your mood (I've met so many amazing friends and experienced some life-changing moments through running too)

Thoughts About The Day/Fundraising Goals

Having worked so hard raising funds already last year for Ability Bow and the fact I can run this year, I'm just even more determined - and am continuing - to raise money for them. 

I'm hoping to reach the £2,000 mark for Ability Bow this year and with your support, we can really help to champion places like this where members can access exercise to boost their mental and physical health for a lot longer. 

Take a look and donate at the top of my bio if you would like to. Thanks so much for all your support! 

Max Tipper, Underwriter, 29

Donate to Max now>>

Why Max Is Running for Ability Bow

I really liked the idea of supporting a local community and giving back to the area I live. Ability Bow is a great cause which makes real change in people’s lives and I want to help make a meaningful impact through running and fundraising.

Essentially, I really want to run for Ability Bow, to:

  • Support the gym’s aims of enabling member independence and encouraging disabled people to be active
  • Aid members attending the gym in their bid to feel able and to move freely

What Makes Ability Bow Unique

Being inner London’s only disability gym, it’s a special place. Given local authority challenges nationwide and funding available to support community services, Ability Bow is a precious resource which has few similar equivalents across the UK in what it provides.

Marathon Experience and Training

This will be my first ever VirginMoney London Marathon and I’m delighted to run it for Ability Bow.

I have previously done a half marathon and do like to keep active and I try and complete a Park Run often (albeit, my teammates don’t permit me to do that before a hockey game!).

In terms of tips, my current focus includes:

  • Doing a shorter run in the week (ie 5k-10k), alongside some interval training
  • Saving my longer runs for Sundays and it seems to have worked effectively so far (while also consistently playing hockey, so I’m a little tired admittedly)
  • Running with others to keep me motivated (I do this with work colleagues as it helps to know others are in the same boat as you and can relate to you along the way)

Thoughts About The Day

I admit, running essentially two half marathons is quite scary.

But given I’ve run a half marathon now and often run around Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park – which makes you feel like you could be in the middle of a forest – given the cause I’m running for and the amazing challenge I’ll be taking on, I’m very excited!

I’ll be hoping to raise £2,000 overall as part of my fundraising goal and if you’d like to donate (whatever amount you'd be keen to give is always gratefully received), head to the top of my bio on the top of this page.

Thanks for all your support and hope to see you on marathon day!