Cawston resident Dean Johnson completed Sunday's London Marathon, raising more than £5,000 for charity in memory of a friend who died eight years ago.
Until recently, Dean, 20, a quantity surveyor with Andrew Morton Associates of Oulton, had lived all his life in Reepham. He attended the local primary school then the high school and was one of the first students at the newly opened Sixth Form College.
Since the death of his close friend Andy in 2006, Dean has organised several events and raised many thousands of pounds for the Brain Tumour Charity, including coffee mornings at the Bircham Centre, pudding evenings at the recreation hall and a Boxing Day swim at Cromer. Here he gives his personal insight into running the London Marathon.
“A year ago I could not run a mile. I wanted to get fitter so I started running, building up the distance over several months. My progress was threatened by a torn calf muscle at Christmas, but my great physio Heather Morton got me back on track.
“My driving motivation for running the marathon was the memory of my best friend Andrew Stringer, a fellow Reepham High School student, who died of a brain tumour in 2006, aged 13. Andy was an incredible boy with a great enthusiasm for life, talented at most sports, intelligent and musically gifted.
“I let everyone know about my marathon plan and with the great generosity of people in and around Reepham and further afield, I raised over £5,000 for the Brain Tumour Charity. Less than 2% of cancer research funding in the UK is spent on brain tumours, but this charity funds scientific and clinical research, as well as offering support and information to those affected.
“And so on Sunday 13 April, I found myself at the start in London, ready to run my first marathon. I did my best to pace myself and managed to complete the entire 26.2 miles.
“The highs and lows of the race were intense and I found the experience really emotional. I was lifted at different points along the course by shouts of encouragement from family and friends. Many, including Andy’s parents Michael and Marion Stringer, had travelled down from Norfolk.
“The crowds were massive and the cheering all along the course, especially at the Cutty Sark, Canary Wharf and Tower Bridge, was fantastic. By the time I reached the finish line on The Mall I was both elated and exhausted.
“I am grateful to all those that supported me throughout, but especially to my younger brother Lee (a current Reepham College student) for his company on my training runs in fair and foul weather and for his great photographs on the marathon day. Also to my mum Lisa and stepfather Andy and many others.”
Will Dean ever do it again? “I’m not sure yet, we’ll see.”
- Donations can still be made to the Brain Tumour Charity through Dean’s JustGiving page: http://www.justgiving.com/Dean-Johnson12