Cheer On Our Fantastic Worldwide Marathon Runners

You can cheer us and our 25-strong marathon squad on - including a team of four fantastic Chinese runners and an amazing participant from California, USA - for the 2018 Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 22 April 2018, to support our unique service for people with disabilities and long term health conditions.  

Based at the Lord Nelson pub on Manchester Road, Isle of Dogs, on the day, you can join our Ability Bow team in supporting our Chinese entrants - travelling from Beijing - for the 26.2 mile marathon challenge, which begins at Greenwich Park from 10am, alongside our many other magnficent marathon squad volunteers on the day, including USA-based competitor and swimming academy owner, Jackie Golison, 56.

Marathon Team

In addition to our overseas runners, Ability Bow competitors range from digital marketing manager George Heslop, 32, from Cumbria and now living in Deptford, to doctor Miren Davies, 51, from Blackheath, and software engineer Andy Sawyer, 53, from Millwall.

Running for Ability Bow in honour of his father Nigel, who experienced a ‘life-changing’ stroke last year, George Heslop has impressively raised more than £2,000 for our service so far.

George says his father is now 90 per cent blind, alongside his significantly reduced independence and confidence - meaning he is unable to maintain his daily lifestyle without assistance.

George says: “My father’s stroke was one of the most heart-breaking and stressful 48 hours for him, my family and myself. Thanks to the paramedics and great work of Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary - including Doctor Karn - my father fortunately still hasn’t lost any of his mobility, speech, or memory.

“I therefore decided to run for this truly remarkable and inspiring gym which gives people in similar situations to my father, confidence and a means to exercise in a safe and comfortable environment - so please help however you can to support this great service!”

As a previous long-distance runner - who will also be tackling cycling from London to Paris just 10 days after the marathon - fellow competitor, Miren Davies, says: “As a local GP, I see the devastating results of some of the conditions Ability Bow support.

“By running this year’s marathon for Ability Bow, our marathon team can support the gym’s goals of helping remove the barriers many people with disabilities and long term health conditions face, all by working in a very inclusive way, ensuring an affordable service and setting personal and realistic goals.”

You can sponsor our 2018 Virgin London Marathon Team here>>

Our Specialist Services

The gym’s magnificent marathon squad will all be running for our Bow-based charity, which was founded in 2006 by director Victoria Kent and various trustees. Supporting Tower Hamlets residents, our gym has aided 3,650 people with disabilities and long-term health conditions into exercise within our first 10 years of service.

Featuring highly experienced and qualified instructors, Ability Bow - based here in St Paul’s Old Ford parish church in St Stephen’s Road adjacent to Roman Road Market - provides various tailored activities, including:

  • For people with strokes, Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s
  • Supporting members with hearing loss through our DeafAbility sessions
  • Helping enhance gym users' mental wellbeing and community engagement through our Positive Steps project

Take a look at our range of activities here>> 

Inspirational Recoveries

One of our gym’s independent service users, Sherner Mehmet, who experienced a life-threatening grade 1 meningioma brain tumour in 2017, only joined Ability Bow in October and is now making an inspirational recovery to walk unaided after initially using a wheelchair and quadstick when first attending the gym.

Sherner says: “It was devastating at the time! My health problems left one side of my body feeling completely dead.

“I remember feeling that I was finished at the time and it was only once my occupational therapist told me about the gym, that I was able to start my recovery and since then I now believe miracles do happen since coming here.”

Read more about Sherner's story here>>

Derek Farrar, who has been attending our gym for seven years, has seen the benefits it has provided in supporting his multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed in 1998, Derek, 61 - a former financial worker within the City of London - says our gym is truly inspiring.  

“The very fact I’ve been able to keep physically active for longer and with no issue, is an amazing achievement in itself given my condition and it’s all thanks to Ability Bow, who provide such a supportive and friendly place and the instructors always keep in contact and engage with you in-and-outside the gym to check how you’re doing,” Derek adds.

Read more about Derek's story here>>

How You Can Donate To Us 

To support our service users in their inspirational recoveries and to help us transform the lives of people like Sherner and Derek: 

You can make a donation on our Virgin Money Giving page here>> 

Creating One To One

Funds generated from the marathon will be invested within both the wider Ability Bow service and a long-term plan to create a new One to One programme for our members, which would aim to support them with sustained exercise and rehabilitation sessions from one instructor over a longer period.

Victoria Kent, Ability Bow Director, says: “We’re excited that thanks to our wonderful marathon runners and supporters, we can aim to help invest generous donations into a potential new One to One service, which would benefit members with further complex conditions for an increased time with specific tailored one-instructor support.”

Transforming Lives

Receiving vital small grants and consistent funding from Tower Hamlets council and NHS City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group, we also seek further regular donations from our generous supporters to help our members - whereby 85% have signed off from physiotherapy since using the gym, according to a recent internal survey.

Victoria Kent adds: “Thanks to everyone involved within our service, including staff, trustees, volunteers and fundraisers, we’ve seen a fantastic reduction in medication intake and hospital visits for our members, alongside a great improvement in those who’ve returned to work - all since using our gym.

“Based on our current achievements, we’re really keen to build on our healthy success and passion for people by continuing to provide key cost-savings for under-pressure and time-restricted NHS staff and adults health and care teams who may refer their patients to our service.

“We all love our gym and we’re keen to sustain its accessibility and enable all of our members - including those who independently exercise and who require more assisted support - to enhance and help them to transform their daily lives and community involvement.”

Meeting For The Big Day

Meeting beside the lovely traditional surroundings of a 19th Century East End corner pub, our supporters can gather by the Lord Nelson on the big day and help by cheering us on or setting up banners. 

Located a few minutes from the Island Gardens Docklands Light Railway stop, we will be toasting our gym’s runners' and supporters’ success at the Lord Nelson post-event.

Travel Updates 

**While the planned Docklands Light Railway (DLR) strike has since been suspended according to media reports today (Friday 20 April 2018) and confirmation on the Transport for London website, it is advised runners and supporters planning to race or attend the London Marathon on Sunday, keep an eye on some useful related travel update links in case of any changes, including**: 

Weather Updates

Conditions on the day are expected to be sunny and breezy with temperatures of 21 degrees celsius according to the BBC Weather page today (Friday 20 April 2018), although this may be subject to change. 

We would advise runners and spectators to keep an eye on weather conditions and bring sunscreen and for spectators, to bring plenty of liquids for hydration and make use of refreshment outlets beside the Lord Nelson - as well as the pub itself - on the day.  

Take a look at the 2018 Virgin London Marathon weather advice for marathon runners on the day>>

Road Closures

Find out about Road Closures taking place across London during the day of the marathon now>>

Find Out More 

Visit The Virgin London Marathon 2018 website for full details about the event here>>

Thanks again for all your support and we look forward to seeing you on the day!