Ten members of staff from across University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust (UHNM) are set to tackle the London Landmarks Half Marathon on Sunday 7 April 2024 in a bid to raise vital funds for UHNM Charity.
A team of both clinical and non-clinical staff are lining up together to help UHNM Charity improve patient care and experience at the Royal Stoke and County hospitals.
Directors, surgeons, and sisters will be lacing up their trainers along with a biochemist, healthcare assistant and secretary to race 13.1 miles through central London alongside 19,000 other runners.
Lisa Thomson, Director of Communications and Charity at UHNM said: “I am delighted to announce that Team UHNM will be taking to the streets of the capital in April to run the London Landmarks Half Marathon to help improve the care and experience of patients at UHNM. We have put together a team of ten brilliant and deserving runners from right across UHNM who will all have an unforgettable day, and I encourage as many colleagues, family, friends and members of the public as possible to get right behind them and donate to Team UHNM.”
“The London Landmarks Half Marathon is one of the most popular and iconic races in the country and we decided it would not only be a fantastic way to raise vital funds for UHNM Charity, but showcase the incredible work carried out here at UHNM to a national audience. I would like to wish all our runners the best of luck in their training and on race day.”
Along their route runners will pass iconic London landmarks including Big Ben, St Paul’s Cathedral, Nelson’s Column, the Shard and Tower of London.
Mr Wayne Jaffe, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon at UHNM and keen runner said: “I’m delighted to be given the chance to be part of Team UHNM running the London Landmarks Half Marathon in April, and looking forward to raising as much funds as possible for UHNM Charity.”
“It’s a fun route which takes in the main sights of the city, with great support along the way and always a really good atmosphere. I always like to try and finish a half marathon in under two hours, but it’s such a fun time that you end up slowing down and take photos, interact with the crowd and enjoy the DJs and other entertainment along the way.”
Meet Team UHNM:
Dr Matthew Lewis, Medical Director
With our predominantly office-based line of work it’s easy to become unfit, so I try to take the time each morning to do some exercise to keep myself in shape and avoid putting on too much weight. I just feel so much better if I’m keeping active, so running is a way of keeping myself feeling well.
I also enjoy the challenge that comes with running. It feels great taking part in a half marathon or 10K, especially when you get to the end of them- there’s a great sense of achievement and nice too if you beat a target you’ve set.
I’ve taken part in half marathons in the past, but over the past few years I haven’t been running in the same way. So I wanted to get back into it, and last year I ran the Stafford Half Marathon for UHNM Charity.
Running for UHNM Charity is a great opportunity for me to raise the profile of its work here at UHNM and generate funds to improve patient care and experience at our two hospitals. It’s also good fun taking part in something outside of work that will support a really good cause here at UHNM.
My advice to anybody thinking of doing something is start your training early! Also, try do a little bit of exercise regularly, even if it’s going for a walk or short run. I lot of people I know have done the Couch to 5k for instance, and have found that really useful as part of a regulated and structured programme.
But any exercise is good- build it up. If you set yourself small challenges and achieve them it is encouraging and you can then stretch and stretch it. For example, you might start off by doing a one or two mile run, but before you know it you might be able to do a half marathon.
Mr Wayne Jaffe, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon
“The London Landmarks is a fun route which takes in the main sights of the city, with great support along the way and always a really good atmosphere. I always like to try and finish a half marathon in under two hours, but London Landmarks is such a fun time that you end up slowing down and take photos, interact with the crowd and enjoy the DJs and other entertainment along the way.”
“I’ve always enjoyed triathlons but I didn’t ever think I could run, that was always my weakest part. But to carry on doing longer triathlons I had to improve my running and I actually really enjoy my running now.”
“I’m slow, but I will always finish and go the distance. I’ll never win unless I’m the last man standing and running. I just keep booking events, I’ll do one followed by another one so there’s no one big race. I did my Ironman, then did two half marathons, then 10k and I just keep going until my legs fall off.”
"My advice for anybody training for something similar would be just get the miles in your legs. You don’t have to go fast at first and learn about running in zones- if you can do a zone two run that’s great training. You’ll go faster on the day because the adrenalin will kick in and everybody is running faster and you’ll find you can do it.”
Jessie Dickson, Deputy Director of Communications and Charity
I used to love going to the gym but took up running once I realised I could fit it around juggling busy work and family life. I’m not the most natural of runners and definitely won’t be breaking any records but find that the open space and me time is good for my mind and stress levels as well as keeping me fit.
I enjoy having something to train for and find I have to have something booked in to keep me motivated so I have run a number of 10k races and a handful of half marathons. I ran the London Landmarks last year and it is an excellent event and brilliant atmosphere and my favourite bit was hearing the Bow Bells. However, I had flu and honestly nearly cried at 10 miles because I wanted it to be over! That’s why I’m really looking forward to giving it another go this year and this time doing it while raising money for the brilliant work of UHNM Charity.
My training started in earnest on 1 January and now I just need to keep it up. I’d love to be able to finish in under two hours, having never achieved this but mostly I just want to get round, soak it all up and raise as much money as possible!
If anyone is thinking about taking up running I’d say just do it. For me the freedom, opportunity to listen to some good tunes and escape from three noisy boys at home, together with the huge the sense of achievement after a good run is all well worth it.
I started running as a vague attempt to redress waistline spread and improve my overall fitness and wellbeing. I run around Barlaston Downs twice a week with my two spaniels. Something of a mismatch but they seem to tolerate waiting for me to keep up.
I love being out early mornings with the dogs and the weather – it helps you feel confident to tackle whatever challenges the day will bring. Although it sometimes takes a little bit of self-discipline, you never regret going out for a run.
Training for the half marathon has yet to begin in earnest. I’ll have to step up over the next few weeks. I’m looking forward to the event and running around London town with the UHNM team. There are some serious runners in the group – I’ll be happy bringing up the rear and taking in the sights. Just remember there is no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong type of clothing!
Julian Waldron, Clinical Biochemist
My running journey started in London in the late 90's when I'd just returned from university in Sheffield. I wasn't as active as I had been and it started to affect my mood and things, so I joined a walking club who met socially in the evening in areas like Greenwich Park. They also organised more long-distance events at the weekend which were both local and further away. The first long-distance walk I did was called the '1066 Walk' in Battle in Sussex and I did everything wrong you could think of- I bought a new pair of shoes I hadn't broken in, knitted tracksuit bottoms which within two miles were uncomfortable, but, one of the good things was I met my now wife during this walk!
Over the next two years we did a lot of long-distance walking events together most weekends across the country. It was during these events and events we met a lot of runners. It was after meeting these runners I decided to apply for the London Marathon in 1999. I had no real experience of running, certainly not distance, but I thought if I could do these long-distance walks of up to 100km, how difficult is a 26-mile run?!
I got in! I started my training with a friend, but perhaps didn't do enough of the long runs. It all went pretty well up to about mile 21 when there was a big wobble, but I got through it. I managed to get in the following year too- trained a bit better and ran a bit better, but still did my own thing.
Then with work I moved from London to the West Midlands. I was still running, entered a few events, but at this time wasn't part of any club and wanted to do it for myself. I then had my son and other priorities and work kind of got in the way, so I stopped running so much.
It wasn't until 2014 that I kickstarted my running again. One of my Haematology colleagues in Pathology organised a tough-guy event so I entered. I wasn't entirely sure what was involved but started to train and get fit and started running again perhaps two or three times a week.
I think it was literally the week before the event I found out what was involved with people disappearing into the mud and water and thought this wasn't what I was expecting! I did the event and quite enjoyed it but ached in places I didn't know existed!
I entered a couple of these events the following year both by myself and with colleagues, and was fitter, but the novelty had kind of worn off. My colleague who had arranged these events was also running the Potters 'Arf Marathon in June 2015, and said do you fancy joining me?
So I did more training, ran the Potters 'Arf for the first time and quite enjoyed it. I've since done it six or seven times, and would say its my favourite half marathon. After the race I got into the habit of running half marathon and 10K events for myself.
Then in 2020 my father sadly passed away during the first wave of covid. I found running really helpful with my mood and when I felt a bit low. It was at this time I also got into trail running, and this culminated me entering an ultra-marathon last September in the Peak District. This was by far the longest event I had ever entered and it changed my view on running in general. I really enjoyed the training and made me reassess entering road running again.
Soon after I moved to Trentham and joined Trentham Running Club, and things really took off then. I'd got the motivation to get out there and run, but all of a sudden there was lots of other people to go running with. It's such a diverse and inclusive group of people, from marathon runners to Couch to 5K and everything in-between.
As part of the club I've been doing a diverse number of events- road races, road relays and cross country and trails, more than I ever imagined.
I was aware of the events that UHNM Charity had organised but never participated in them. So I thought if I'm doing all these events why not do it for them and raise some money for them. Next year is poignant for me too, as it marks 25 years since I started my running journey in London, it's come full circle. Since leaving there I've not done any events there and it'll be stange being back where I grew up. I'd always do events and my Dad would be out on the course cheering me on. I think where has the time has gone?!
Running has helped me in different ways. When you're younger you set yourself targets and want to set personal bests, now its about getting out there and your mood and wellbeing. I still want to do the best I can when they say go, but I'm conscious now I'm not always going to be running as quick, it's about the challenge and enjoyment of the event.
I'd advise any new runners to make use of running clubs, I wish I did when I was younger! Staffordshire is blessed with lots of fantastic clubs. You might think everybody is quicker than you, but there's such a broad range of paces there from the ages from 18 to 80. Just go along and see if it's for you. You don't have to do it alone, there's always people out there who can help and support.
Alex Worsey, Sister Ward 105 (Surgical Ambulatory Care Unit)
I never thought I was going to be a runner despite us being a sporty family. My husband and daughter both run for Newcastle Running Club, and my husband was even fundamental in setting up the Hanley Parkun.
But one day I just went out. I ran around the block, then around the block twice, and just built myself up to a 5k. I then started doing Parkruns and progressed from there. My husband said, if you can run 5k you can easily get up from there to 10k. The if you do a couple of 10k runs, then you can do a half marathon.
I’ve previously run the Potters Arf and Stafford Half marathons doing what I’d call well in both- finishing Stafford in under two hours and Potters in 2hrs 6mins.
I always aim for 20 miles a week, including a long run of around eight miles. Living in Trentham, my training for the race also revolves around my local Parkrun to which I also run to and back from. I’ll tick over at this until beginning of March and then do slightly longer runs of around 12 miles.
I see running as free exercise- why pay for a gym membership you won’t use when you can go running three times a week for nothing? From a mental health perspective too its fantastic. I have a stressful job, but even after a 12-hour shift I find the time to go for a 5k. I use the time to process things that have gone on at work, and even do a lot of ward planning and problem-solving on my longer runs!”
Lee Jones, Porter
"I started running 14 years ago as part of a healthier lifestyle and to gain fitness- I was a taxi driver so didn’t get much exercise."
"My first half marathon was the Stafford Half Marathon which I did in 1 hour 47 minutes. I was absolutely exhausted but set a goal of going under 1 hour 45 minutes at the Potter’s ‘Arf later that year which I did."
"Since then I’ve done 26 full marathons, three full-distance Iron Man events and countless half marathons, 10K’s and other race distances. I’ve also run a number of ultra-distance and 24 hour events."
"I started working as a porter last November and to be honest, my running took a hit as I didn’t enter any events as I do so much walking at work."
"Being part of the London Landmarks 2024 for UHNM Charity is such a motivation for me to get back into running. Even though my speed isn’t as good as it was, I’m back to running 40 miles per week."
"I’m really looking forward to the race, but am not sure whether to call it a race yet, as I don’t know if I’ll be racing yet or just running around London happy!"
"My tips for anybody getting into running is to start off slow with a mixture of running and walking, and don’t try to do too much too soon. Try running to a fixed point like a lamp post or post box then walk to the next, run to the one after, walk to the next and so on building it up slowly."
"I’d also recommend joining a running club, Couch to 5K group or take part in a Parkrun on a Saturday as you meet likeminded people. Only race against yourself, don’t compare yourself to others- set your own goals and chip away at your own personal best times."
Healthcare Assistant Ward 218 (Staffordshire Children's Hospital at Royal Stoke)
I started running in 2023 to improve my general fitness. I saw the Potters Arf advertised through UHNM Charity and thought I’ll run that whilst raising funds for Ward 228 where I was working at the time. The race itself was hard, especially with the hot weather but I finished. A couple of months later I took part in the Stafford 10k shortly followed by Manchester Half Marathon. My plan is to continue to do some half marathons this year with the aim of getting to a full marathon next year.
I find running is good for both my physical and mental health. Being healthier and regularly running makes me feel better.
In the build-up to the race I’ll be aiming to improve m pace, but it’s mainly about finishing and the overall experience. It’s a cool half marathon to run, and I’m looking forward to seeing all the landmarks along the way.
Jessica Mulroy-Johnson, Engagement and Marketing Lead, Targeted Lung Health Checks
I started running doing the Couch to 5k with my local club, Audley Striders. Once I finished that, I realised how much I enjoy running with them. There’s such a nice atmosphere, we go out every week and I’ve met many friends there so there’s a social side too.
So naturally I progressed to doing 10k’s with them, and this year along with my line manager in the UHNM Comms Team, Jessie Dickson, we completed the Potters ‘Arf Marathon for UHNM Charity as part of a two-person relay team. Despite it being very hot on the day, I enjoyed the race and the atmosphere from the crowds, and got the bug to get some more miles under my belt. So since the summer I’ve been training with my friend from Audley Striders who did a half marathon a couple of months ago.
The London Landmarks will be the furthest I’ve run, having currently done 12 miles, and thanks to my training with my running club, I’m feeling good about the race. I know I can do it, and I’m hoping that the atmosphere on the day is going to push me that extra mile at the end. I’m excited to see all the different landmarks along the route, and I’ve heard good things and its supposed fun run to do with lots of things going on.
Getting out there and starting running is really good for you and your mental health. If you’re finding it a struggle to do it on your own, I’d definitely suggest joining a running club, Start off small and increase the distance on a monthly basis. Running for UHNM Charity is a really heartwarming and worthwhile thing to do, and I’m looking forward to raising as much money as possible.
Joanna Jones, Secretary
I got into running during lockdown. As well as going to the gym for strength training, I found running was good for my mental health. It gave me a better buzz than the gym did, and I’ve tried to keep it up since then.
I completed the Manchester Half Marathon with Mr Jaffe, Consultant Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, in October. He’s a good runner, he’s fitter than me when it comes to that!
I enjoyed training for that, and that’s what’s motivated to keep that training going. I found Manchester easier than the Potters ‘Arf which I’ve also completed, so am, hoping the London Landmarks will be the same.
I do my training locally around Trentham where I live and have also been running on the treadmill at the gym if the weather isn’t ideal. My plan is to properly start my London Landmarks training in January. I’m doing the odd run now to keep myself going, but I know I’ll be able to it in the New Year.
I’m feeling a bit nervous about the race, but I think it’ll be good fun seeing all the landmarks around London and raising funds for UHNM Charity.
My advice to anybody starting running is just go for it, even just 1k is a great start, The Couch to 5k app is also good, I got a few of my friends into that who are now runners.
And if people are scared to go out, just get your headphones, treat yourself to a nice outfit and go- the buzz I get after it is amazing!
Walk, Run, Swim, Cycle
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