Virtual Edinburgh Marathon: Kealon's story

Kealon Cantwell first decided he wanted to run a marathon back in April, having returned from his year abroad early to London and a full lockdown.  He felt at a loss as to how to motivate himself and looked for inspiration in running related challenges, having begun running a few months earlier with college friends.  In his mind there was no bigger challenge than a marathon and no other choice than the city he attends University – Edinburgh.

Having seen the impact that mental health had over so many people he was close to, he decided that the Mental Health Foundation was the ideal choice and that the approach of MHF was a refreshing one – focusing on the causes to seek out prevention.

Training started well and a 16-week plan was going to have him ready in time for the Edinburgh Marathon’s rescheduled October date.  A knee injury from earlier in the year lingered but didn’t cause too big of an issue early on, until training was disrupted by exams and moving back up to Edinburgh, at which point Covid-19 had forced the Edinburgh Marathon to go virtual.  This meant that he could complete the marathon in his own time and on his own terms, so he planned his route around Edinburgh and arranged for friends to join him for certain parts of the route.

Unfortunately in August he injured his IT band (right knee) and his torn patellar tendon (left knee) injury returned, meaning he couldn’t cover more than 2km before his leg flared up and restricted him to a hobble.  7 weeks of physio and stretching followed until he received the good news that, although it would be painful due to an insufficient training regime, that he could attempt his marathon at the end of November.  This meant that he could also start fundraising again, after halting this due to scepticism about being fit enough to complete the marathon.

His excitement about the marathon grew and race day came and went without a hitch, until 36km when his leg seized up but with help from friends, family and running partners, he was able to push through.  The excitement of finishing was over-shadowed by intense pain in every corner of his body, which continued for the next day or 2.  But as he lay in bed, in pain, the gravity of it all hit him along with the plethora of congratulatory messages from loved ones. 

It was by far the most challenging thing he has done but equally the most rewarding, not only as a mental and physical feat, but also for the incredible amount of money that everyone helped raise.  He has been blown away to have raised £1400 with the support of his incredible family and friends, especially given the hard financial times caused by Covid-19.