Our magnificent marathon fundraisers explain why they chose to run for CAFOD

Over two weekends in October, eleven runners took on the London Marathon and the Royal Parks Half Marathon for CAFOD. Once they’d caught their breath, they kindly told us what inspired them to take part!

Susan’s story

CAFOD had five runners taking on the London Marathon this year. One of them was Susan Smith.

Susan’s journey to the start line of the London Marathon began a few years ago. She picks up the story…

“Back in August 2019 (so long ago!) I was moaning to Natalie (my daughter) about being 60 the following May. She decided a good distraction would be to do the London Marathon together.

“The crowds were amazing, I honestly think the people cheering us on for the last six miles were working as hard as us!”

Susan Smith

“Then Covid struck and ‘our’ day was delayed for 18 months. We did the virtual marathon in 2020 and had a great day running around Epping Forest with family popping up everywhere and even David (my son-in-law) joining in for the last six miles.

Natalie and Susan
Natalie and Susan at our cheer station!

“So, two weeks ago we did the real thing. Natalie is a fast runner but her birthday present to me was to stick beside me and look after me. She did everything for me that day – she carried a rucksack with all my layers, snacks, and gels…it would have been so much harder without her. She had to shout at me to keep me running over the finish line!

“The crowds were amazing, I honestly think the people cheering us on for the last six miles were working as hard as us!

“I was so happy to run for CAFOD. Because of David’s involvement (as a longstanding CAFOD supporter) I know what an amazing charity it is and felt happy to ask people for sponsorship. Thank you so much for giving me the most amazing memory!”

Father Paul Leonard

Father Paul Leonard was one of our six runners in the Royal Parks Half Marathon fundraising for CAFOD. We asked him a couple of questions about his experience.

Fr Paul with Ian and Cristina
Fr Paul with Ian and Cristina after the half marathon

“For me, supporting my brothers and sisters in the human family who are struggling and suffering is hugely important.”

Father Paul Leonard

Why did you take part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon?

“I was approached by another friend who is a long-time supporter of CAFOD, and he asked if I would like to take part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon while at the same time raising money for CAFOD. It was a no brainer! I love running, I’m a great supporter of CAFOD and it’s an iconic venue to run!”

What was the best part of the day?

“Oh, where to start! There were a few elements that stood out. All the support from the crowds that lined the streets and parks, seeing thousands of fellow runners supporting great causes, meeting up with the other runners supporting CAFOD post-race, and passing that finish line when I was sooo tired!”

And why did you choose to run for CAFOD?

“CAFOD work with people from some of the poorest communities in the world. While there are so many good charities doing laudable work it is not possible to support each and every one, so I have to pick carefully and prioritise.

Fr Paul with Bhav, Sej and Tom
Fr Paul with Bhav, Sej and Tom at the finish

“For me, supporting my brothers and sisters in the human family who are struggling and suffering is hugely important. I know that CAFOD makes a difference to people’s lives.”


Could you do a charity challenge event for CAFOD?

Susan and Fr Paul are just two of the amazing runners who raised funds for CAFOD through their efforts. Do you feel you could run for CAFOD, or that you could join an organised event, or do your own thing maybe? All you need is a challenge and a way to fundraise! If you think this could be for you, please get in touch with Neil Roper at events@cafod.org.uk.

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