Wombles in training for London Marathon

Phil Harrison SJ, Richard Greenwood in Womble costume, Jane Hellings

On a cold, grey day in February Jane Hellings, Director of development and communications at Jesuits in Britain, Richard Greenwood, Outreach and communications manager at Jesuit Missions, and Phil Harrison SJ, all met on Wimbledon Common to get in some vital marathon training with only nine weeks to go before the big day.

On the 22nd April 2018, a team of 34 runners will be running the London Marathon to raise funds for Jesuit Missions, whose focus this year will be split between supporting women’s empowerment programmes in the villages around Darjeeling, India and supporting Jesuit Refugee Service East Africa working with refugees in Uganda.

Jane, who has signed up to run with her eldest son says:

“I have been supporting the Jesuit Missions and Jesuit Refugee Service runners for the last five years, writing their inspiring stories and taking their photos for our websites and magazines. After five years of effort they have finally worn down my resistance and persuaded me to join them at the business end of running! Before starting my training, I had only ever run for a bus. But I have surprised myself and I’m hoping to complete in under 5 hours.”

Training on Wimbledon CommonPhil, who joined the Society of Jesus 10 years ago and will be ordained priest in June, has recently returned from Colombia where he was studying theology for three years. While there he visited Guyana and saw some of the work Jesuit Missions has supported in the past. After helping a village community lay the foundations for a new church, he came away inspired to run the marathon.

“The whole village came out to help build the foundations and I saw such joy, energy and commitment from the villagers and I wanted that too. I find that running brings you back to life and I find life and energy in my running.”  You can read more about Phil's running inspriation in his recent blog post.

Phil has just returned to London from directing a 30-day retreat at St Beuno’s. “That was a marathon in itself!” he commented. 

After six years of congratulating the Jesuit Missions team at the London marathon finish line, Richard has decided to run. He has decided that if he is going to run he has to do it as a Womble!

“I have been hassling people for years to run as a Womble so I couldn’t not do it! People treat the Wombles like celebrities on race day, you definitely get extra attention, it’s a very different experience to just running it as yourself. The Wombles have been a part of the London Marathon for over 20 years so everyone knows about them. It also means I won’t be putting too much pressure on myself for an amazing time.”

He has already experienced some of this celebrity treatment on Wimbledon Common as people stopped and asked for a photo with him.

Read more about some of our other runners

To support Jane, Phil or Richard, please go to their fundraising pages.