My Story is a regular feature on guinnessworldrecords.com where record holders reveal their experiences.
Today's guest blogger is The Reverend Steve Chalke MBE from London, England.
In 2011, Steve regained his Guinness World Records title for most money raised by a marathon runner after receiving an incredible £2,330,159.38 in donations following his completion of the Virgin London Marathon.
Ahead of this year's London Marathon, which takes place on Sunday, the 57-year-old tells us the inspiring story behind his incredible fund-raising feat, and in light of this week's shocking events in Boston, how long-distance running events play an important role in bringing people together.The crowds, the music, the noise, the media.
Anyone who has run a marathon will know just how much of a buzz you get from the support you receive from the hundreds of thousands of supporters who line every inch of the course.
It was this almost indescribable, life-affirming feeling that led me to sign up almost straight away for the following year’s event after completing my first London Marathon in 2000.
My first year as one of the tens of thousands taking part in the event was purely as a fun-runner, but it soon became apparent what a great way it would be to raise big sums of money for charity.
I’ve spent most of my adult life fundraising, and am the leader of the Oasis Charitable Trust, which I founded in 1985 with the original aim of opening a hostel for homeless young people.
The trust has since grown into a family of charities employing more than 4,000 people and working on five continents and 11 countries around the world, to deliver housing, education, training, youth work and healthcare.
A marathon provides great reason to ask for funding as well as a handy deadline by which the money has to be raised. It nudges donors into action.
It’s also easier to raise money if you can create some publicity for yourself. Going for the Guinness World Record title for the most money raised by a marathon runner gave me that opportunity.
I always run in the early morning, and in the winter it is easier to get out of bed in the cold and the dark for training if you have a target – knowing that you’ll be helping others by completing your run really does help you focus on your preparations.
My job is busy, my days are long and my diary is unpredictable, so team sport is impossible – but I love running. I would have to say I’m pretty competitive when in training. Even when I go for a jog in the mornings, I hate being overtaken by anyone.
My route often takes me along the South Bank of the Thames (a popular spot for those in training). I love it if I can get home having sped past lots of other runners.
I think it may be that competitive spirit which has helped me set the world record on three separate occasions.
I first achieved the feat in 2005 after raising £1.25million. However the record was broken the following year by no less than Olympic rowing legend Sir Steve Redgrave who managed to up the benchmark by receiving donations totalling an even more impressive £1.785million.
I had meet Steve, who had originally planned to attempt to break the record in 2005, the same year as me.
We were introduced to each other by Dave Bedford, the then director of the London Marathon.
However Steve was forced to pull out that year and postponed his bid till the next year. As far as I was concerned, his decision was great news because it gave me more of a chance to claim the record in 2005 and then provide the chance to raise more money by attempting to reclaim my record from him if he was successful in beating me.
I didn’t run in 2006, but I watched on TV. When it was announced that Steve had beaten my record, I was excited because it created the opportunity I needed to raise more, desperately required, cash for Oasis the following year.
So it was that in April 2007, I recaptured ‘my’ title, raising over £1.855 million in 3 hours 58 minutes 40 seconds. It was a figure that I managed to top in 2011, when I set the world record for a third time by raising £2.32 million – a record that still currently stands.
Along with the London Marathon, I’ve also run its counterparts in New York and Chicago – and loved both. I’d still love to run the Boston and Berlin Marathons.
London, New York, Chicago, Boston and Berlin are recognised as the big five – they are brilliantly organised and wonderful community and sporting occasions, which is why even the tragic events that took place a few days ago at the Boston Marathon will not dent the spirit of long-distance charity runners. We are determined and tenacious – it’s what we do.
While I won’t be taking part in this year’s London Marathon, a number of runners representing Oasis will be going through the pain barrier to run the 26.2 miles hoping to once again raise funds for the charity. You can find out more about the Trust and how you can donate at www.oasisuk.org.
My advice to them, and indeed to any others taking part this Sunday, is to enjoy every moment. Allow yourself to soak in the fun, the crowd and the support.
And, when you feel like giving up at the point when the start line is just a distant memory and he finish line still seems a world away – keep going!
When they hang that medal around your neck – it is the biggest buzz and will make every step of the journey worth it!
* Follow us on Twitter (@GWRnews) for record-breaking updates throughout Sunday from this year's London Marathon.