Meet some of the inspirational participants taking part in the 2023 Brighton Marathon

Published on
March 9, 2023
Meet some of the inspirational participants taking part in the 2023 Brighton Marathon.
  • Friend of Grace Millane, UK backpacker murdered in New Zealand, is running to raise awareness of male violence against women
  • Sussex dad running to raise money for Royal Alex Children’s Hospital
  • 2023 Brighton Marathon Weekend takes place on Saturday 1 April and Sunday 2 April 

Thousands of participants will take on the 2023 Brighton Marathon on Sunday 2 April, each with a unique reason for taking on the challenge.

Some may be taking it on for charity, to raise money for a cause close to their heart or in memory of a loved one, while for others it might be the bucket-list challenge of completing a marathon. Below is a selection of some of the most inspiring stories from this year’s participants.

Isabelle and Emily Gammer, both 23 and from Leigh-on-Sea, Essex

Charity: White Ribbon Campaign  

Isabelle and Emily were family friends of Grace Millane, who was murdered by her date while backpacking in New Zealand in 2018 – she had been celebrating her 22nd birthday. Alongside Grace’s cousin, Emily, Isabelle is taking on the Brighton Marathon to raise money for the White Ribbon Campaign, a charity committed to engaging men and boys to end violence against women and girls.

Isabelle said: “We want to see the end of male violence against women. Although there has been a huge outpouring of support in response to Grace's passing, some comments in the media have brought attention to how crucial a campaign like this is in educating people on the violence against women, and the prevalence of it.”

Andrew Fountain, 54, from Cowfold, West Sussex

Charity: Rockinghorse Children’s Charity

Twenty-nine years ago, Andrew’s eldest son Eddie was born needing life-saving surgery. Eddie spent six months in and out of intensive care at the Royal Alex Children’s Hospital in Brighton and remained under their care until he turned 19.

In April 2023, Andrew is taking on the Brighton Marathon, the South Downs Way 50 Mile, and the TCS London Marathon to raise money for Rockinghorse, the charity that supports the Royal Alex Children’s Hospital.

Andrew said: “All the staff at the hospital cared so much and without their skill, dedication and compassion we may not have Eddie here today. I’ll do anything I can raise money, say thank you and allow the charity to provide the same level of support to other new parents as we were fortunate enough to receive.”

John Brewster, 43, from Portslade, Brighton

Charities: The Sussex County Critical Cardiac Care Unit

Last year, the Sussex Country Critical Cardiac Care unit saved the life of John’s 21-year-old son Jay. Last year, Jay developed Endocarditis, an infection in his heart, and spent time in A&E, intensive care, critical care, and finally critical cardiac care where one of his valves was replaced.  

Jay’s experience has inspired his father, John, to take on the Brighton Marathon, raising money for the hospital and staff who saved his son's life.

Anthony Seddon, 41, from Portslade, East Sussex

Anthony met his wife Anna in 2012 while watching football in Ukraine. Now, they live together in Portslade with their two children.

When the war in Ukraine started last year, Anthony and Anna, from Dnipro in Ukraine, decided to do all they could to help which led to Anthony devising the Run2Ukraine fundraising challenge. The challenge is for football fan Anthony to run 1,569 miles, the distance from Brighton and Hove Albion’s Amex Stadium to Dnipro Arena in Ukraine. All the money raised from this challenge will be used to raise funds for medical aid in Ukraine.

Anthony’s taking on the Brighton Marathon as one of his challenges and hopes to run a marathon a month until he’s completed the 1,569-mile target.

Marlena Clark, 36, from West Sussex

In 2022, Marlena and her husband, Lee, took part in the Brighton Marathon Weekend 10K and decided to make their next goal their first marathon. The pair started training for this year’s Brighton Marathon but on January 21, Marlena’s husband suffered a heart attack.

Fortunately, Lee survived the heart attack and while he’s focusing on recovering and won’t be taking part in the 2023 Brighton Marathon, he has been a chief supporter to Marlena, encouraging throughout her training programme and will be there to cheer her on Marathon Day.

Sophie Buckler, 40, from Leicestershire

Charity: Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS)

Sophie is running the first marathon of her life in memory of her daughter Daisy, who died when she was only ten days old. When Daisy died, Sophie was supported by the Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society (SANDS). Sophie’s desire to be a mother didn’t die with Daisy and SANDS helped Sophie normalise her feelings of guilt and anger, and instilled Sophie’s faith that she would have more children without diminishing the memory of Daisy.

Sophie said: “Losing a baby is a strange type of grief. You don’t grieve a life that has passed, you grieve a lifetime of missed opportunities and memories that you planned to make.”

Jutta Hepworth, 67, from Twickenham, London

Jutta started running seven years ago when she turned 60. She’d listen to friends and other runners in her running club talk about their marathon experiences and was always in awe so added a marathon to her bucket list. Never having had the courage to attempt it before, when asked by a friend if she wanted to enter the Brighton Marathon she laughed and said ‘I couldn’t possibly’.  

The organiser of her running club, Bearcats Running Club, overheard Jutta and offered to run-walk the marathon together and now they’ve been training together since last year.  

Jutta said: “Three weeks after Brighton is my 68th birthday, so before I get too old, I need to prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.”

Kate Pain, 49, from Reigate, Surrey

Charities: DEC Turkey and Syria Earthquake appeal

Kate was diagnosed with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) in her twenties and struggled to walk, let alone run. She regained pain-free movement after rehab and is in remission. Running a marathon was on Kate’s bucket list of things to do before she turns 50, and now, decades after her diagnosis, she’s built up the confidence to take on her first.

Kate is raising money for the DEC Turkey and Syria earthquake appeal, inspired by the scale of the crisis and wanting to help those disadvantaged by it.

She said: “Running for those that need help the most provides me with the motivation I need when things start to feel tough.”

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