Ken O’Leary will be joining over 37,000 runners when they line up to start the Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 24 April. The elite runners will be followed by thousands of club athletes, fun runners, charity fundraisers, celebrities, politicians and fancy dress costume wearers. Here’s Ken’s story:-
A little bit of background about me!! I’ve been running marathons for approx 6 years, my passion is Football, but I started running about 8 years ago to keep up my fitness levels and soon discovered that I really enjoyed it! I don’t run with any club, as to be honest I enjoy running on my own – it’s inexpensive and I can go when I want, it’s a great way to keep fit and it’s great for letting off steam, all I need is my i-pod and my trainers and I’m off!
Initially I decided to run my first Marathon to challenge myself and to raise some money for an Autistic Spectrum Disorder Unit at a local School, which my son attended, after that I developed the ‘bug’ and haven’t stopped running since, I have trained hard and am proud to have beaten my times year on year.
My partner and I have three children and unfortunately in January 2011 our youngest son was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia. It was an incredibly difficult time for all of us, having to go through three and a half years of chemotherapy and equally challenging was the many hospital admissions and as a family we spent a lot of time apart. It was during this time we were introduced to LATCH and I don’t think I have enough words to express our gratitude for the amazing support our son and our family received from them!
This is one of the reasons why I support LATCH. I have fundraised for them for the last 4 years and this will be my fifth year. I am delighted that LATCH was able to give me the Silver Bond they are entitled to every 5 years, that enables me to represent the Charity in the Virgin London Marathon on 24 April 2016!! To say I was over the moon would be an understatement and I am delighted that I am able to run in this prestigious event.
However in July 2015 whilst playing football, I snapped my tibia and fibula and required extensive surgery to repair the damage. The Consultant said it would take at least 6-9 months to get back to normal. I was devastated and also in less than 12 weeks I was set to run the Cardiff Marathon, but I worked hard at trying to be as mobile as I could and I wasn’t about to let LATCH down – if I had to walk it on crutches or do it in a wheelchair I would!! With my bone not fully healed and possibly against medical advice, I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon in October 2015 and completed it in 2 hours 34 minutes, my previous time was 1 hour 24 minutes – I was immensely proud of my achievement and my time considering I was carrying such a big injury, but this obviously couldn’t have happened at a worst time.
As we approach the Virgin London Marathon, I ran the World Half Marathon Championships in March and completed the course in 1 hour 39 minutes, this is a massive improvement from the Cardiff Half Marathon and I am now putting in the extra training in order to complete the marathon in a respectable time for the Charity
I have received a lot of support from my local community and to say thank you to everyone who has supported me over the years, LATCH has been kind enough to agree to me donating 30% of my fundraising to a local charity or cause and I have listed below those I have been able to support whilst fundraising for LATCH:-
Perthcelyn Primary A.S.D Unit (Funding towards classroom resources and help towards fundraising for a Yard for the Unit)
Glenboi Primary School (New Football Kits)
ANA Boxing ( Boxing Gear)
Park Lane Special School (Funding towards School Resources/Equipment)
Get Garin Walking (Funding towards an operation in America for a young local boy that is not available in the UK)
If you wish to support Ken in his fundraising, please visit his Just Giving page here.