246 %
raised of £5,000 target
by 396 supporters
Mark Joy avatar
Mark Joy

Seven Marathons in Seven Days in Memory of Lisa and Louie

running seven marathons in seven days for Wellbeing of Women because I owe it to Lisa and Louie

246 %
raised of £5,000 target
by 396 supporters

Wellbeing of Women

We fund ground breaking medical research to improve the lives of women and babies

Charity Registration No. 239281



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Starting on Friday 26 July 2013 I am running seven marathons in seven days (184 miles) in memory of my sister Lisa and nephew Louie.

Lisa became pregnant in early 2011 and grew a healthy baby boy, Louie, to full term. During labour on Thursday 15 December 2011, Lisa suffered an amniotic fluid embolism, which ended her life and the life of her son Louie before they ever got to see each other.

An amniotic fluid embolism (AFE) is an obstetric emergency in which amniotic material enters the mother's bloodstream via the placenta, resulting in cardiorespiratory collapse and often death of the mother, and in extreme cases death of the baby as well.

Lisa would have been a perfect mother, and Louie would have been the luckiest baby in the world, with parents who love him to bits. The day Louie was to be born was going to be so perfect, with the creation of new life. Instead lives were destroyed.

No baby or pregnant mother should be taken in this way, which is why I am raising money to support research into AFE, one of the most common causes of mortality during childbirth. Despite AFE's devastating effects, almost nothing is known about its causes or risk factors. All standard tests showed Lisa to be a completely healthy pregnant mother. She had no reason to have even the slightest concern about giving birth.

Without further research, doctors will never be able to tell other pregnant mothers the extent to which they are at risk of AFE. Wellbeing of Women is a charity dedicated to improving the health of women and babies and is the only UK or Irish charity to fund research into AFE. Please help me to raise money and awareness of AFE and donate in memory of Lisa and Louie.

Thank you.

Thank you to my youngest sister Francesca for helping me write the text above. 


Dublin: Friday 26 July

Marathon one, Dublin, complete. Weather as expected (scorching sunshine followed by torrential rain) but support was way beyond expectations. Beck very kindly joined me for the first few miles. Thank you. It got my legs motoring. Big thanks next to my Dublin running pals, the Dun Laoghaire Pier Runners for running the last six miles with me. Gloria, Clare, Lindsey, Billy, Alan, Paul, Donal, Pat, your support was brilliant. Workmates Gordon and Eoin skipped lunch to cycle through Dun Laoghaire with us. Lisa, Anne, Martina and Therese whooped at me and encouraged other folk to whoop too, which they did, oblivious as to why. At the finish line, more work pals (Will, John, Yvonne) were there to embarrass me with some cheering and watch me wade into the North Sea for some cooling off. Donal entertained us all by dive-bombing a bunch of errant kids. Superb. Legs feeling okay and thankfully there were no mishaps today apart from being flapped at by a Heron and nearly dropping my after-run cornet (strawberry). Finishing at the seaside was lovely because it brought back good memories of family holidays years ago, playing bat and ball with Lisa and letting her bury me in the sand. I miss her dearly. Thank you so much for your support.


Glasgow: Saturday 27 July

Marathon two, Glasgow. Set off along the Clyde in early-morning sun. No one else on the river path except a handful of cyclists and stop-outs. Turn north through the west end of Glasgow towards Milngavie for an 18-mile route that grows greener and hillier (ouch) the closer I get to Milgavie (start of the West Highland Way). Plenty of time on my own to chat with Lisa. Back in Glasgow, Dan and Mike are waiting to join me for a final 8.2-mile loop of the city. We set off with Mike nursing tendonosis and Dan suppressing an ability to run ten times faster. Discussion of grand prix, heel raises and speed-talking checkout staff (Would I like a what for a chance to win what with a what?), take our minds off the heat. At the finish line are Alan and Estelle, Matt and Billie and Isla and Ben, to escort me to pasta and pudding. Thank you to them for travelling to support me. Also Dan and Mike. Very many thanks. I enjoyed our accidental Chugging (charity mugging), with a pleasant couple kindly donating a tenner. The total balance donated so far to Wellbeing Of Women is staggering. Thank you so much. Lisa, I have no doubt, would be over the moon that so much has been donated in the name of saving the lives of mothers and babies.


Manchester: Sunday 28 July

Manchester marathon in numbers: miles, 26.2; weather fronts, 19; convoy cars, 3; horn parps, 15; Radio, 2 (Steve "Alpha Papa" Wright); leg wobbles, some. A long loop today of Heald Green, Handforth, Cheadle, Cheadle Hume, Didsbury and Chorlton (of "And The Wheelies" fame). James, Nicola, thank you very much indeed for the running company, the cycling, the Twitterings and for enduring the rain. Mum and Dad, as always, thank you for everything. And to perhaps the most selfless man on the planet, Lisa's uncle Steve Dawber, I am in your debt. Thank you for the planning, the driving, the watering and the finish-line sprint. It was far beyond the call of duty, but very welcome. Steve Dawber Factoid: What football team plays closest to the river Mersey? Manchester was picked for a marathon venue because Lisa has a great many close family members there. They have all been brilliant at supporting the charity, Wellbeing of Women. But a special mention must go to Lisa's Auntie June. Auntie June, thank you for looking after us. More importantly, thank you for all the love you have always shown to Lisa. She thought so much of you. To anyone who has not already donated, please donate if you can. It is for an incredibly important cause. Ps, Ans: Stockport County.


Takeley: Monday 29 July

Takeley. 26.2 miles along The Flitch to Braintree and back. Lisa moved to Takeley in 2003. As well as falling in love there with Phil (they married in 2010), she also fell for Takeley's green fields and home-counties charm. The Flitch is a cycleway passing through lots of both. At 7am I start out from Lisa and Phil's farm, and head across a couple of fields that Lisa peered out over every day from her kitchen window. Rabbits are everywhere. Today no poachers. Takeley and the farm bring back lots and lots of fond memories of Lisa, far too many to mention.  Thank you all again for your kind donations. 


Bristol: Tuesday 30 July

Bristol, Lisa's hometown. Mountains of childhood memories here. What could have been such an emotionally difficult marathon turned out to be a real emotional high thanks to a huge turnout of Lisa's family, her childhood friends and many incredibly positive supporters. Local tellie and radio chipped in with some (thankfully) very sensitive and thoughtful reporting. Thank you Radio Bristol, Points West and The Evening Post. The weather was wet, rainy and humid but everyone stayed the course, or at least their section of it. Once again, thank you so much for coming along. Lisa would have loved it. She was always the first to organise a family-and-friends outing. Just a quick mention of some of the many people to came to support today:

Mum, Dad, Francesca, Andrew, Bev, Anita, Paul, Elliott, Nicky, Molly, Annabel, Suzie, Kyle, Karen, Ella Lara, Ben Kelly, Lucy, Jake, Faye, Eddie, Alan W, Ian, Pete, Leslie, Roger, Rusty, Leslie, Roger, Misty, Zak, Leo. Thank you, really, for your support, financial and otherwise. It's very, very good of you.

BBC Bristol television:



Exeter: Wed 31 July

Exeter, specifically the village of Kenton outside of Exeter, is home to Lisa's good cousins James and Rob and her Auntie Karen and Uncle Keith, and because of this I pick it as the basecamp for Marathon Six, running from Dawlish, to Topsham, to Exmouth to Topsham, following the Exe Trail. Weather is warm but thankfully the clouds fend off the worst of the sun's heat. Views are great: across the River Exe and out to sea. Legs, unfortunately, are almost spent. Pain is increasing, strides are shortening and knees, I am sure I can hear, are emitting audible whimpers. Keith runs with me for the first 10 miles. Then Dad hops on his bike, Francesca trots along, Keith again, then James. Karen, Vicky, Katie, Maisie and Mum are supporting from the sidelines. Thank you so much for coming out and cheering: your support is a brilliant tribute to Lisa and Louie. 


Padstow: Thu 01 Aug

Marathon seven, Thursday 1 August, 2013. Bodmin - Wenfordbridge - Bodmin - Padstow. Cornwall is the venue for the final leg because Lisa's older sister, Debbie, lives here. Debbie and Lisa were both pregnant at the same time. Their firstborns were to grow up together, first cousins and best of friends. These plans, hatched by Lisa and Debbie during hours of happy chats on the phone throughout their shared pregnancy period, were torn to shreds when Lisa collapsed and died on Thursday 15 December, 2011. 

Debbie entered labour just three weeks after Lisa died. How Debbie had the strength and courage to fight through the grief, I'll never know. Debbie, you are incredible. Lisa would be so proud of you and of your gorgeous daughter Honey. 

I start today's run feeling confident and strong, knowing that even though my legs feel as heavy as breeze blocks as I hoist myself out of bed, today is my final day and I'm within touching distance of completing this for Lisa and Louie. 

At seven ay-em, with the sky mercifully cloudy and cool, I set off from Bodmin along the Camel Trail, a leafy, traffic-free route based on an historic railway running alongside the River Camel. While the temperature in London is climbing towards 34 degrees Celsius, here in Bodmin things are thankfully way cooler. 

The first leg of the trail (Bodmin - Wenfordbridge - Bodmin, which is about 16 miles in length) is very quiet. The only other route users are the odd cyclist and mangy farm dog. Pete, Debbie's husband, kindly offers to cycle alongside me for this first stretch (and actually ends up accompanying me for the entire distance to Padstow). Yesterday, towards the end of the Exeter marathon, I started getting a pain in my achilles tendon not too dissimilar I imagine from being sliced open below the calf with a badly chipped samurai sword. But today, no small thanks to the miraculous repair work of physiotherapist Jane Newman in Exeter, I am feeling far better. 

The first half of today's marathon I cover at a good pace (8-and-a-half-minute miles over some stretches of it, which I'm sure to many people sounds pretty slow, but for me, after a long week, I'm pretty happy about). Doubling back to Bodmin, I top up with liquids and set off for the final leg of this final marathon, from Bodmin to Padstow. My Dad, Mike, joins us now, hopping onto his bike (hopping, in as much as any man in his sixties with varicose veins and a bum bag is able to hop anywhere). 

As I run from Bodmin towards Padstow, with the route far busier now with cyclists, I remember messing around on bikes with Lisa as a kid. For a couple of years (I guess when we were between the ages of six and ten) we shared a Raleigh Budgie, a tiny purple bike with high handlebars and long saddle. We used to race round the cul-de-sac (Honeymead Road) with the other local kids, me peddling and Lisa on the back, tearing across lawns (Norman in Number 7 was furious), with Lisa screaming to go faster. She was fearless. 

At Wadebridge, my Dad dismounts and Francesca, my youngest sister, jumps on the bike to ride the final few miles alongside me. The temperature rises as we near the finish line in Padstow, and I'm starting to really struggle. Not a good time to discover that I've miscalculated my distances and Padstow is actually 2 miles further than I need to run to complete my daily 26.2 miles. I decide to carry on running and cover the full 28 miles it will take to get to Padstow. If I stop now, it will take a bulldozer and dynamite to get me moving again. 

Approaching the finish line I see the sea and a beach, which gives me some extra oomph to cover the final few hundred yards. I've promised myself a dunk in the sea. Hoping I have the energy to get back out after. 

I cross the finish line feeling physically ruined but elated I was able to complete this for Lisa and Louie. Letting them down would have flattened me. 

Mum is there for a hug. Emotionally I'm pretty retarded usually, but once over the finish line I start blubbing. It takes a while to stop. Mum, Dad, Francesca, Debbie, Pete, Honey, thank you so much for being there for me at the finish line. Your support and encouragement on this last day helped me massively to keep going. 

Angela and Colin, of BBC Spotlight, thank you for covering Lisa's story today. All the same, no thanks at all for asking me, after running 189 miles, to run some more for the cameras. A stunt double would have been nice. 

This whole experience has been incredibly rewarding on so many levels: it has allowed the family to share memories with old friends of Lisa, to catch up and listen to their stories, which is brilliant for us, because it's so lovely to hear just how much of a positive impact Lisa had on so many peoples' lives; it has acted as a focus for family and friends to feel able to talk about Lisa and Louie, which we find hugely difficult normally; it has raised awareness of amniotic fluid embolisms; and, way beyond my expectations, it has raised a huge amount of money to fund research into the causes and risk factors of amniotic fluid embolisms, and through this, we hope, will go someway towards ensuring other mothers and babies do not suffer the same terrible fate that befell Lisa and Louie. 

Thank you all for your donations, words of support, and love. 


BBC Cornwall and Devon television:



Twitter: @marksrjoy


Reflections with Faye Dicker on seven marathons in seven days and memories of Lisa and Louie:





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