Grassroots initiatives motivate marathon runner

Sam Aidoo (far right) on a half marathon in Victoria Park, London
Sam Aidoo (far right) on a half marathon in Victoria Park, London

Among the runners in next month’s London Marathon will be Sam Aidoo, Jesuit Missions’ Education for Justice Coordinator. She says that her experience of working with Jesuit Missions (JM) has been a strong motivation for her to take part and although she has run in several races before, the London Marathon on 23 April will be quite exceptional.

“In the two years I’ve been at Jesuit Missions, I’ve seen how effectively the organisation works with poor and marginalised people,” she says. “About 85% of my motivation for running is to help bring funds to the projects JM is working on, these remarkable grassroots initiatives that are changing lives around the world.”

For Sam, the physical exertion of taking part provides the other 15% of the motivation. “I find running seriously difficult. All I can think about is the physical pain, the boredom and the exhaustion! But I love exploring. I’ve been running a lot in London and even though I’ve lived in the city my whole life I’ve seen things I’d not seen before.”

Biological and physical rhythm

Sam describes herself as a pretty competitive person and she finds that stimulating over a long course like the 26.2 miles of the London Marathon. “I know on race day that I’ll need to shut that out and keep in my own race … But I definitely won’t shut out the atmosphere. Training has been so solitary and I can’t wait to get among the crowds, the music and all the different scenes around London.”

All the runners taking part in the London Marathon have their own techniques for preparing for the course and taking part. Sam says that for her running is a form of meditation. “I follow a breathing pattern that really helps me focus on the moment, create a biological and physical rhythm and understand more about how my body works.”

Also running for JM in this year's London Marathon will be Fr Chris Krall SJ, an American Jesuit who recently joined the Campion Hall community in Oxford, where he is pursuing a Masters in Sacred Theology with the intention of continuing into a DPhil in Science and Religion. This will be Fr Chris’s 16th marathon and his first in Europe.

You can read more about Sam’s preparation for the London Marathon on 23 April – and sponsor her or Fr Chris or any other member of Team Jesuit Missions – on the Jesuit Missions website.