26 February 2024

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Poppy’s marathon story

Poppy, an interior architect from Bromley shares her training update

Marathon Runner Poppy Younger

Poppy’s father Ricky spent seven and half weeks being cared for at St Christopher’s before he died on 1 March, having been diagnosed with inoperable cancer in October 2022.

“We’d heard of St Christopher’s and been to the charity shops but had never been to the hospice and had no idea what it was really like. Coming from hospital, the difference was amazing. Everyone from reception to the café staff, nurses and volunteers, they were all so lovely. We felt so welcome and at home. My mum stayed over for the last two weeks and I was often there until midnight. It was just a magical place for us to spend the last few weeks with Dad.

“He particularly loved the foot massages, which made him feel relaxed, and the ice creams – he couldn’t get enough of them.”

When Ricky died, aged 62, Poppy and her mother and brother Josh, vowed to raise as much money as they could for St Christopher’s. He was a familiar and popular figure in the community having been the site manager at a local school and the family quickly raised £5,000 for the hospice.

Poppy was determined to do more. She and her mother had been to watch the London Marathon for years – supporting friends and enjoying the atmosphere.

“For ages I’ve said I’d run it one year and I just thought there would never be a better year to do it so I applied, without telling anyone, not really thinking I’d be successful and then when I heard I’d got a place, the reality set in.”

Poppy describes herself as fit-ish. Her dad taught her to play golf and she started going to the gym regularly over the last few months. She’d never really done any running though.

“I’d be out of breath just running for a bus, so it was hard work when I started training in September.”

A few months into training, and Poppy is now running for an hour three to four times a week but is acutely aware of the challenge and distance ahead as her morning commute to Tunbridge Wells is 25 miles – just less than the marathon distance. She says everywhere she goes she is conscious of distances.

So far, Poppy thinks she’s on track to be ready for the big day and says that having the personal motivation really helps on those days when she’s just not feeling it.

“It can be hard when it’s dark and chilly. But I am determined to keep going and know Dad’s laughing at me and saying, ‘get your backside in gear!’.”

A carol concert at St David’s school in West Wickham, where Poppy’s mother works, gave a serious boost to her £2,500 fundraising target.

Looking ahead to the big day in April, Poppy is expecting sizeable support from her large family and friendship group and expects the crowd will help carry her to the finish line.

“I feel good running on my own but I’m also getting used to crowds by doing Park Runs at the weekend. If I hit the wall at about 18 miles, I expect I’ll probably just burst into tears. I’m not worried about times; I just want to get to the finish.

“But I can’t wait to have the medal, put it in a frame on my wall, have that amazing feeling of being able to say I’ve done it and raised as much money as I can for St Christopher’s as my way of giving something back.”

If you’d like to take on a challenge for St Christopher’s you can find out more on our events calendar

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