Haroon Mota has run three marathons since 2012, and this year he is taking on the challenge of running four marathons in three weeks, so we thought he would be perfect to speak to about how best to prepare yourself and what surprises you might face.
How many marathons have you run?
Since taking up running in 2012, I have completed 3 full marathons. I ran the London Marathon in 2012, 2013 & 2015. I’ve also completed 21 Half Marathons.
Have you run any others apart from the London Marathon?
I’ve not yet run any other marathons yet. I had signed up to run the 2016 Paris Marathon, and it was going to be my first international marathon which I was so excited about. I had even booked my flights & hotels, but my wife became pregnant and was due in April so I had cancel. I’m looking forward to running the Manchester, Paris & Boston Marathons this April, along with London, as part of my big Marathon challenge this year though.
What initially motivated you to run the London Marathon?
I was never a fan of running, I used to find it so boring. We never did athletics in my school either so I had never really developed any distance running ability. Back in 2011 I took up a job offer to work as a Youth Support Coordinator on the Teenage Cancer Ward at UCLH Hospital in London. I used to commute from Coventry to London every day, and I found it so strange getting out of Euston Station every morning and seeing so many people running the streets. It was quite bizarre but very intriguing to see and I often wondered what motivated these people to run, especially on wet, cold winter mornings. The year before I remember watching the London Marathon on TV with my wife, and she said “you could never do that (run 26.2 miles)”, and I genuinely agreed. I never thought I’d be able to complete such an insane distance. The Teenage Cancer Trust were recruiting for the 2012 London Marathon, and being a keen fundraiser myself I thought it might be a good idea to give 26.2 miles a go. I had never even run a 10k before – what was I thinking? The thought of fundraising to support young people with cancer; the very young people I was working with on daily basis was something which I was very keen to be involved in. I knew 26.2 miles would be tough but I thought I could add it to my list of achievements, after having trekked to Mt Everest Basecamp a few years earlier. It was the year of the London Olympics too and I thought it would be a great time to be involved in the London Marathon.
Was there anything about running the London Marathon that you didn't expect? Anything that you saw or felt?
I didn’t expect it to be so extremely difficult the first time I attempted it. I thought I had trained enough, but I obviously didn’t do enough. It was the most horrible & painful experience ever. At mile 18 I told myself I’d never run again, and I honestly can’t remember that last 6 miles or so. It’s all quite a blur now – I was in that much excruciating pain from all the severe cramp I was suffering from.
I didn’t expect there to be so many spectators. They were everywhere, and were amazing!
How did it feel to run with so many other people? Again, did any of your fellow runners do anything you weren't expecting?
Running with so many thousands of people was such a buzz. The atmosphere was electric. Seeing so many people from different backgrounds, representing hundreds of different charities, wearing all sorts of colorful & crazy costumes, each with their own unique stories, was just incredible. I felt so lucky to be part of the London Marathon.
How did the supporters and cheering help?
For the entire 26.2 miles there were spectators full of cheer. They were full of encouragement, shouting your name and chanting silly jokes to help keep spirits up. At times in the latter stages of the race where I’d be reduced to walking with no energy left in the tank. I’d be full of exhaustion, and in agonizing pain, but the supporters would cheer with so much energy that I’d feel obliged to get my run on again. It’s unreal how much a difference the spectators make. It wouldn’t be the same without them!
How did you feel in the lead up to your first London Marathon?
I remember being quite nervous. I was worried about becoming ill or getting injured. I wasn’t sure if I had trained enough or whether or not I had fueled adequately. I was excited too, but being my first ever race, I wasn’t so sure what to expect. I had a lot support and appreciation from the public, and my friends and family. I was running for such a great cause, so I felt really proud for what I was going to do. I did feel a little pressure on myself as I had spent so many months shouting about my Marathon on social media and generating lots of interest in my campaign – so I felt that I had to complete the distance in a respectable time as well.
Were there things that made the training easier? Or any that made it harder?
Training was very tough, but my motivation was always the Teenage Cancer Trust. I was running for all the young people who have cancer and I knew I was making a big difference, so I kept these young people at thought when training got tough.
Finally, what kept you going through all of the training?
I raised over £5000 in my first Marathon. I had such huge support from friends, family, my community & local media, and it gave me so much more motivation. I didn’t want to let my donors down, and I felt that I owed them for their support so I ensured that I kept myself going. It’s never easy training through the winter, but when you have a solid reason to run, nothing can dampen your motive. I told myself that regardless of weather conditions, and regardless of how lazy or achy I might have been, I would always get my training done.
Got a place?
Create a Fundraising Page on JustGiving to support a cause you care about