When Sophie ran her first-ever half marathon for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice, it was a tough day for her both physically and emotionally. Read her story to discover why she took on 13.1 miles to raise money for hospice care and why she wants you to #JoinTeamSophie at the Great Birmingham Run this year. 

I never expected my first half marathon to be easy. But having to take one on, just one day after I lost my granny, was really, really tough.    

My granny first came to Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice in August. I didn’t really know what to expect of a hospice but pictured it to be quite a sad and lonely place. Of course, I couldn’t have been more wrong. As soon as I came here, I was amazed to see how positive and uplifting it was – and just how quickly my granny settled in!  

I was really grateful that my granny had her own private room at the Hospice. It meant that our family could spend quality, personal time together. I ended up spending many days in that room with her. I was always surprised at how homely and comfortable it was, with a lovely view of the Hospice’s garden through the window.

One of the things that always impressed me though, was just how wonderful the doctors, nurses and volunteers were.  It didn’t matter if you were staying at the Hospice or if you were a loved one visiting, they always treated you with such kindness and respect. And they were so warm and jolly – helping to keep everyone upbeat. That was just what my granny and our family needed – a smile and some positivity – especially as we were going through an upsetting time in our lives.

Whilst I was visiting my granny one day, I spotted a poster in reception, asking people to take on the Great Birmingham Run in support of the Hospice. I’ve always enjoyed running – and was quite a keen runner whilst I was at school – but as I’ve got older, I had been running less. So I decided to sign up, as a way of setting myself a new sporting challenge whilst also giving back to the Hospice.

Training for a half marathon was difficult at times – sometimes, it can be more of a mental battle than a physical one. But I stuck at it and slowly started to build up my distance over the weeks. Just knowing that every mile I ran was helping the Hospice kept me motivated – the Hospice was doing so much for my family, so it was rewarding to know that I was doing something for them. My granny was so chuffed that I was doing it.  

So when she passed away the day before the race, I was just heartbroken. I was so upset that she wouldn’t get to hear about my run but I was also really determined – determined to complete it in celebration of her memory.

On the day of the run, I was quite emotional. The weather had been terrible all morning but as soon as I arrived at the start line, the sun came out and stayed out. I still think it was granny that did that for me.

The run itself was challenging but throughout all 13 miles, I kept reminding myself that I was doing a wonderful thing, in celebration of a wonderful person, and all for a wonderful charity. The atmosphere on the day is just something else – although you’re running on your own, there’s a real sense of community and everyone is there to do something amazing.

When I crossed the finish line, I felt a real sense of achievement – I had done it! But even better than that feeling, was knowing that my granny would have been so proud of me. It’s an incredible feeling knowing that you’re doing something great for yourself, but it’s even better when you know you’re doing it for other people too.

After that race, I certainly caught the running bug and have since completed a marathon for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice. 26.2 miles is a big distance but I know every step I took was making a bigger difference to the people and loved ones the Hospice cares for.

For anyone thinking of signing up to the Great Birmingham Run this year, I say do it! For those that have already signed up and are currently training – keep at it. I know training can be tough at times but it really is worth it – just remember that every mile you run will help more people and their families who are living with life-limiting illness.   

Thank you Sophie for sharing your story with us! So far, Sophie’s runs have raised an impressive £2,036.81, which could help a family create precious memories together at our Family Centre at the Hospice.  

If you’re feeling inspired, then why not #JoinTeamSophie and be part of Birmingham St Mary’s running team! There are still places left for this year’s Great Birmingham Run – you can find out more by taking a look here.