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Essex woman prepares to tackle London Marathon for The Salvation Army

17 Apr Essex woman prepares to tackle London Marathon for The Salvation Army

Emma started working for The Salvation Army in 2009 and has been the manager of The Salvation Army’s rare breeds centre on Hadleigh Farm Estate in Essex since 2012.

Despite having an active job and loving the outdoors, Emma wouldn’t describe herself as ‘fit’ but she is definitely adventurous.

Why Emma entered the marathon
After completing the 3 Peaks Challenge with her friend Sam in 2017, Emma and Sam joined their local running club in pursuit of their next challenge – distance running.

At the start, Emma didn’t really have a target distance in mind. She says: “I couldn’t even run a mile to begin with.”

After an initial six-week challenge of ‘Couch to 5K’, Emma kept increasing the distance until in May 2018 she completed her first half marathon in two and a half hours. Emma says: “It made sense to me that the full marathon was the next distance.”

She applied in the ballot for the London Marathon but was unsuccessful so secretly signed herself and Sam up for charity places with The Salvation Army. When the places were confirmed and she broke it to Sam. Emma admits: “She had a few choice words for me but after the initial shock she came round – she’s used to me!”

Emma’s training
Emma has a methodical approach to training. Each week she aims to complete three runs: one is focused on time, another on distance and the final one is all about enjoyment. She wanted to make sure she was hitting a half marathon on her distance run by Christmas 2018 so she could then add a mile each week in the lead up to race day on 28 April.

When it comes to training, Emma says the biggest challenge is “trying to fit it all in.” Spring is her busiest time at work because of lambs and kid goats being born and the reopening of the centre to the public. Some weeks during spring she can work more than 50 hours, responding to calls during the night.

Emma is spoilt for picturesque running routes as Hadleigh Farm Estate overlooks the Thames estuary and Hadleigh castle. Her favourite routes are along the seafront between Benfleet and Southend, as long as the weather is kind – but when you’re training for a marathon, fair-weather running isn’t really an option.

She says: “I love the endorphin rush you get from running and that it is time for me to switch off and focus on my health and wellbeing.”

Emma does a lot of running with her friend Sam. She says: “I’m a plodder, Sam is faster – she’s quite competitive with me. I just want to enjoy it – I like a chinwag as we run.”

What Emma’s fundraising for
Salvation Army runners have the option of raising money for the church and charity’s work protecting and caring for vulnerable victims of modern slavery across the UK or they can raise money for a local Salvation Army project of their choice.

Emma chose to split donations between The Salvation Army’s work on Hadleigh Farm Estate as well as its work combatting modern slavery.

As part of the management team at Hadleigh Farm, Emma is actively involved in and committed to The Salvation Army’s work serving and engaging the community through the estate.

The Salvation Army’s 900 acre Hadleigh Farm Estate incorporates a training centre for adults with additional needs, a rare breeds centre, two cafes, sensory rooms, a sports based partnership with Essex County Council at The Hub in Hadleigh Park – the venue for the London 2012 Olympic Mountain Biking Event – and a team that develops and delivers faith-based activities across the site.

Modern slavery is also something Emma feels passionate about, having learnt a lot about the horrors and shocking reality of the crime in recent years. She comments: “It’s scary what goes on behind closed doors.”

Director of Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army Kathy Betteridge says:

“We can’t thank these runners enough for their time and support. The Salvation Army’s Victim Care Fund provides additional support to help survivors of modern slavery. This could be a deposit for someone to move into their own home, clothing for a job interview, or a bike to help someone get to work.

“When the runners are out there facing the marathon challenge, they can be assured that their efforts are directly helping victims of modern slavery transition to independent living. We are truly grateful.”

Emma has teamed up with her friend Sam to raise money. So far they have organised quizzes, silent auctions, cake sales, themed evenings, bring and buy sales and a fashion show.

Emma has felt very supported by The Salvation Army throughout training and fundraising. She says: “They keep on checking in with advice and have created a Facebook group where we can get to know other Sally Army runners. It’s been great to hear from more experienced runners and to encourage each other.”

Emma’s feelings about race day
Emma says she is excited about race day. She says: “You only live life once. It’s going to be a great story to tell.”

Some advice she has been given is ‘go slow, but keep going’.

As she’s been increasing her distance in training, she has also been trying out various energy snacks, including gels and has found a peanut butter paste that she loves.

Hadleigh’s Salvation Army tambourine dance group, Timbreltastic, will be in London on the day, cheering the runners on. Emma says: “It will be nice to see some familiar faces. I have around ten family members and friends that are going to be strategically placed along the route to keep me going.”

When asked about what she’s planning on doing to recover, post-race Emma says: “I’ve booked a spa day for the day after the marathon. I can’t wait!”

Emma already has her next challenge in her sights: “I’d love to walk through the Grand Canyon.”