Victoria James, a Trainee Solicitor working with our Employment Lawyers finished the London Marathon on Sunday and has raised more than £1,800 for the British Red Cross to tackle loneliness in the UK.
The Co-op chose the British Red Cross as its charity partner last year, with a very specific aim of raising awareness of loneliness and starting to tackle it in our local communities. The Co-op family of businesses has a unique ability to reach many people, so if we can talk about loneliness and engage in the communities in which we operate, this can really have an impact.
Victoria won her place in the London Marathon after Co-op Group ran its own ballot, similar to the one operated by the London Marathon, to fill the charity places it was awarded by the British Red Cross.
Victoria put her name forward in November last year and was told shortly after that she has won a place.
Before she started her training, Victoria had never run a race before, but her training for the marathon meant she actually ran a half marathon in the build-up. Nothing prepared her for the scale and the buzz of the London Marathon though.
Victoria said "the crowd were amazing, as were the other runners. They helped you along the way and the support I got from the British Red Cross before, during and after the race was fantastic."
She met another Co-op employee, Kristian Blount, an Area Manger working in our Food business. They ran most of the marathon together and crossed the finish line together too.
Victoria finished her first marathon in a time of 6 hours and 23 minutes and is definitely going to do another one. She said "I'm going to join a running club as I want to get faster."
The aftermath of the race has taken its toll on Victoria's feet – she is currently wearing flip flops to work as her toes are still very sore, but she's finding stairs less of a challenge than shoes.
She said "I know some people who are having to come down stairs backwards, but I'm dealing with them OK. I'm glad I work on the ground floor though."
You can still donate to Victoria's Just Giving Page and the money raised will go to help the British Red Cross tackle loneliness across the UK.