Every year the London Marathon operates a Silver Bond scheme, which offers registered charities the chance to apply for one guaranteed entry place every five years in this iconic event. Having first applied for the Silver Bond place in 2014, This Is EPIC was delighted to finally be allocated a place for the 2019 run.
Just to enter the scheme costs £330, so Louise and Philip Smith, co-founders of This Is EPIC, were keen to give a supporter of the charity the chance to run in the London Marathon and raise much-needed funds. This Is EPIC is focused on implementing Village Savings and Loans schemes in communities in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Its approach of empowering individuals to come together to access informal financial services has a positive and sustainable impact on the fight against extreme poverty.
As Louise explained: “The London Marathon is such a fantastic event and we know that many people don’t get in through the ballot. So we decided to open up the place and see who would be not just genuinely excited to run it but who would also be prepared to fundraise. The fundraising is key for us as these charity places are like gold dust – well, silver dust!” After publishing a social media post inviting applications for the place, Philip and Louise were delighted by the response they received.
Although all the applications were strong, one stood out from the rest. Jenni West, who works in the Retail team at Specsavers’ support office at La Villiaze, has already completed two marathons but is determined to beat her previous times.
Jenni said: “Both times I was going through my own personal mental health challenges and while running helped me, I missed my targets and knew I could have done better. I’d love the opportunity to do it again, smash my target and raise a load of money at the same time. It’s something that both daunts me and spurs me on.’
Jenni’s determination and true grit resonated with the charity. The link between exercise and improved mental wellbeing is well known, and is close to Philip and Louise’s hearts as they have previously teamed up with Guernsey Mind to raise funds for both charities as well as promoting this link. The motto of This Is EPIC’s fundraising vehicle EPIC Challenges is ‘Never Give Up’ and on their visits to Africa the team has been presented with handmade banners inscribed with the word ‘Topowa’, which means the same in Ugandan. EPIC Challenges organise events such as My EPIC Week to inspire people to take on challenges and strive for goals they might not think they can achieve.
It was this outlook that motivated Jenni to apply to run the marathon for This Is EPIC: “I love their message and it inspires me to do something outside of my comfort zone. For me, that’s doing this on my own – this will be my first time training completely solo which is a massive challenge for me.”
You can donate to Jenni’s marathon challenge via her Just Giving Page- https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jenniwest2019