London Marathon: Mark Lanning

Mark Lanning

We recently caught up with Mark to find out his reasons for running the London Marathon for EHAAT and see how his training is going.

Why did you choose to run the marathon for EHAAT?

On 20th June this year, I got a phone call from my friends wife saying he had taken a turn for the worse and that the Air Ambulance had been called. I jumped in the car and got round there to find five paramedic cars and an ambulance. They had still called the Air Ambulance on the off chance that they could get his heart started and to take him to Basildon hospital (Essex Cardiothoracic Centre). Just seeing what they all done that night for a good hour was just unbelievable to try and save my friends life. Unfortunately, they were not able to. But for those guys to be able to walk away from something like that and go home to their family, I just think is unbelievable.

I worked with him for 25 years. For 16 years we drove in the same car each day, 106 mile round trip from Essex to Hertfordshire. Some people have said we were like we were a married couple! So I really appreciate what they did that night to try and save my mate and I wanted to give something back. I didn’t know EHAAT were a Charity before the incident.”

All his family will be there on the day cheering me on. Neil wasn’t a runner, but when I’m running sometimes I hear leaves behind me and it sounds like someone is there, but there’s not and I wonder if it’s him giving me that push I need to finish that run!

Have you done any long distance running before? Or any similar challenges?

I’ve ran the London Marathon twice in 2014 and 2015, so I know it’s something I can do to raise money. I’ve also done some half marathons in training for the marathons. I’m scared of heights so I can’t do a bungee jump or anything like that.

Up until the age of 40, I never ran, but that’s when I applied for the London Marathon. I felt the best I’ve felt. You clear your mind of work and everything else. After the second time of running it, I thought ‘that’s it, I won’t do it again, it will just be half marathon.’

However due my friend passing, I then applied for a place through the ballot, knowing I would run in aid of EHAAT, but I didn’t get a place and was very down about it. My wife told me to look at EHAAT’s website to see if there were any places. I’d been in a car accident a few weeks before and was on my way to see the physio about my back, but she made me ring and find out anyway. I spoke to a fundraiser on the phone who said they would send me a form to fill in and that was it – I was chosen!

I’d like to do some of the other marathons around, but I’m also competitive in that I want to beat my time, so I’m sticking with this one. I’ve done it in 4hours 35minutes and 4hours 25 minutes. My wife, friends and colleagues will be there to cheer me on.

How is the training going? Are you following a specific plan?

It’s the same plan I’ve used the last two times. I’m a few weeks behind where I want to be due to the car accident. I should be at 10miles but I’m on 9 at the moment. I think the running has helped me recover quicker. The running I find okay; it’s the stretching that’s boring. I’m looking forward to running the marathon again in terms of fitness. I don’t think I would have done it again if it weren’t for this charity and wanting to raise as much money as possible.

I plan to run 20 miles three times before the day. It’s nice where I live as you run down to Southend-on-Sea along the estuary to Leigh-on-Sea and then back up. It’s nice looking out and taking in the early morning views. I have never listened to music when running as I want to take in everything around me. I’ve tried to listen when I’m training but just find it slows me down.

Once you start hitting longer distances, walking down the stairs gets hard, so you have to walk down sideways. The worst bit about the training is the ice baths. When I get to 10 miles I have one after every run. A seven minute ice cold bath is painful; your legs really feel it.

How do you plan to fundraise?

I’m going to do a curry night. Hopefully my friends will spend a lot as they love a drink! I’ve also got a running relay planned at work. People get into groups of three and run a mile each, but I have to run the whole lot. That’s good fun.

We have a charity committee at work who have said they will help me through cake sales and I’ll do another curry night over there as well. I think the fact that we worked for the same company will help me in raising money. Each time you fundraise, you get ideas and then work on how you can do it better next time.

Any tips for anyone thinking of taking up running?

Do it! It does make you feel better, especially with these dark nights where you just sit and watch TV, eating what you want. It’s nice to get home, get changed and go out for a few miles.

Once you start noticing a difference in your body and fitness, you feel brilliant. I have a spreadsheet with all my times and distances to see what I need to hit and how I can beat my own time. It keeps it fun and interesting, like a competition with yourself.

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Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (1108989). Registered company in England and Wales (05397840). Registered address: Flight House, The Business Centre, Earls Colne Business Park, Earls Colne, Colchester CO6 2NS.

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