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The charity making life better by water

Going the extra mile for our charity

There are few better ways to set yourself a challenge, get fit and raise money for canals and rivers than running along our beautiful towpaths and quaysides. Just ask Holly, who took on her own lung-busting challenge in October, completing the virtual London Marathon along the Kennet & Avon Canal and raising a fantastic £869.

Woman smiling at the camera by the canal

“I've spent many a happy day on the canals ever since I was young, but until a chance meeting, I didn't know anything about the Canal & River Trust. I'd already secured my place in the virtual marathon, and knowing I had this great fundraising opportunity, I wanted to support a charity I felt passionate about. As luck would have it, I met a Trust representative at a running show just a week before I started training, who told me all about the amazing work the charity does. The rest is history.

Obviously, a key part of any fundraiser is getting donations. I used social media to reach my immediate peers and took advantage of handy features like tagging and hash-tagging to reach a wider audience of like-minded people. It can feel a little daunting to ask people to donate, and my top tip for successful fundraising is to remember that you're not asking for money for yourself, you're a conduit for a wonderful cause. Have the confidence to get out and shout about it. If you choose a cause that you're really invested in, raising money is a pleasure, so be loud and proud.

Close up taking a selfie by the canal

A virtual marathon is not what it sounds like. It's not completed indoors on a treadmill, you're not in a virtual space, and there are no TV or phone screens. The only requirement is that you complete 26.2 miles (running or walking) outdoors in the same 24 hours as the London Marathon itself. I designed my route along the Kennet & Avon Canal – 26.2 miles of mostly flat, straight, even towpath, surrounded by nature. Pretty much perfect.

I started preparing in February, a whole eight months before I took the start line. I focused on good nutrition, made sure I got plenty of rest and recovery and struck a balance between cardio, strength and mobility training. It wasn't always easy; I experienced mental and physical fatigue, and there were times when I got a little overwhelmed by it all. But I had a brilliant support network, and whenever I had a wobble, I just thought about the bigger picture. Think big, start small.

Person out running by the canal

The best part about taking on an event like this is the process. It's completely joyous. Fundraising challenges bring out such a sense of community, they encourage kindness, start conversations and inspire change in so many ways. Soon after completing my virtual marathon, people began reaching out to me to tell me they'd been for a run or spent time on the waterways. My cup of life has been filled by this experience.

If you're thinking of taking on your own fundraising challenge, my advice is to take a leap for the greater good. Shine your light, encourage, inspire, get moving and just see what you can do. No amount is too small, and no feat is too great."

Last Edited: 30 December 2022

photo of a location on the canals
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