Meet some of the inspiring people taking on the 2024 Brighton Marathon

Published on
April 3, 2024
13,000 finishers expected at Brighton Marathon, highest number since the Covid pandemic

Around 13,000 participants are expected to finish the 2024 Brighton Marathon on Sunday 7 April, the highest number since Covid, and each has a unique reason for taking on the challenge.

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

Becky Alexander, 42, from Hastings

Charity: Active Hastings

Becky has taken on three half marathons throughout her six years of running, but never felt a full marathon was achievable. Her eldest son, Josh, had a passion for health and fitness and always had faith she’d complete the 26.2-mile distance. “He was my biggest supporter, always pushing me to succeed,” Becky says.

In June 2023, Josh and his pregnant girlfriend died in a car accident. Now, to fulfil Josh’s faith in her ability to complete a marathon, Becky is running in Brighton to honour his memory.  

She’ll be supported by her running club, Heart and Sole Runners. Many of its runners take on the distance for the first time and are all rallying behind the #DoItForJosh campaign. Becky set up the campaign to raise money for the physical activity project Active Hastings, which Josh worked on and was passionate about during his life.

Active Hastings came to Becky with the idea of setting up a football tournament in Josh’s memory in 2023. Eight teams took part last year, with another tournament planned for September 2024.  

The money raised from the football tournament will be added to the fundraising efforts of Becky and the Heart and Sole Runners at the 2024 Brighton Marathon and donated to the Active Hastings Weight Management and Fitness programme.

Jaime Wallden, 54, from Hassocks, and Maddy Wallden, 21, from Nottingham\Hassocks

Charity: Rotary

Jaime ran the first Brighton Marathon in 2010, as part of what he calls a midlife crisis when he turned 40 years old. Maddy, his then six-year-old daughter, was there supporting him up to the Finish Line and did the same when he entered in 2011 and 2012.  

Jaime managed to convince Maddy to run the 2023 Brighton Half Marathon, which they completed in two hours. “It was a very proud moment for us both to run down the line together,” he says.

In September 2023, an inspired Maddy told Jaime she wanted to run a whole marathon, and that she was going to apply for the 2024 TCS London Marathon.

Despite Jaime’s reluctance to run another marathon, Maddy applied for her and her dad to run in London and, a few weeks later, the pair found out they both had places.

Once Jaime got his head around the thought of running another 26.2 miles, he suggested they return to the event where it all started and run the 2024 Brighton Marathon first.

Maddy returns home from Nottingham as often as she can and has managed a 22-mile training run with her dad. Jaime is raising money for Cuckfield Lindfield and Haywards Heath Rotary and plans to distribute the funds he raises to local mental health and dementia support groups around Mid Sussex.

Nathan Bhatti, 24, from Horsham

Charity: Stroke Association

Nathan is running the 2024 Brighton Marathon and fundraising for the Stroke Association in memory of his Chacha (uncle), Nadeem Bhatti, who passed away on 4 October 2023, at the age of 52.

The last time the pair met in person was in 2010, as Nadeem lived abroad, but they regularly stayed in contact via FaceTime and he was due to visit Nathan at the end of 2023. Tragically, Nadeem was on the way to submit his visa papers for his visit home when he had the stroke in the car.

Nathan says that Nadeem was a motivational, inspirational, charitable individual who excelled in life, but also gave back so much to the local community. After Nadeem’s passing, Nathan says many individuals stepped forward and shared how he had supported families. Whether it was by paying children’s school fees, providing basic groceries to families, or donating a percentage of his salary every month to local community groups.

Astonishingly, nobody knew the extent of his good deeds until after he passed.

“Chacha’s passing and the good deeds he did inspired me to continue his generosity in raising money for the Stroke Association,” Nathan says. “Sharing his story and raising awareness of this condition may then benefit individuals who are at risk of this medical condition, support those who are living with disability due to stroke and finally fund research which one day will be able to prevent this medical condition.”

Meg Riches, 32, from Brighton & Hove

Charity: Cancer Research

In 2023, Meg lost two important people in her life to cancer. Her stepfather, Kevin, died from pancreatic cancer. Meg – a wedding photographer – also had to come to terms with the death of one of her clients, Lucy, who died just a month before Kevin.

Meg lost direction, feeling like her life had stagnated, as she was overtaken with grief. But having decided to take back charge of her life, the 32-year-old signed up to the 2024 Brighton Marathon on the spur of the moment.

Her decision made her loved ones laugh, she couldn’t even run half a kilometre when she signed up, but their reactions just emboldened her.

At first, Meg found it horrific but within six weeks of training at the gym, she managed to run 5K and is working hard to complete her marathon training.

“Every time I go running, I feel joy and happiness coming back into my life. It sounds corny, but I feel like I’m running back to the woman I used to be,” Meg says.

She is running the 2024 Brighton Marathon for Cancer Research, in memory of Kevin and Lucy.  

Lucie Murray, 52, from Los Angeles

Born and raised in Brighton, Lucie moved to Los Angeles when she was nine. In wasn’t until she had her own daughter that she found marathon running, starting in her 30s. It quickly became a large part of her life as she joined the LA Marathon, working with youth and community programmes.

Lucie lost her mum in 2023 and used running as a release. She says it feels like the right time to return to her hometown and run the 2024 Brighton Marathon, on the streets where she spent her early childhood.

Lucie’s daughter, Delilah, is coming to see the special places of Lucie’s youth, including Lucie’s grandmother’s house which the course goes past, and the Pier and beach Lucie remembers spending days at with her own mum and family.  

“I really look forward to Event Day – though I imagine there will be times it will be more painful emotionally than physically. The loss of my mother is so raw, and I have so many memories in Brighton with her, my dad and grandparents who are also passed.”

Jo Gibbons, 52, from Birmingham

Charity: British Heart Foundation

Eight years ago, Jo lost her husband Andy, 44, to a heart attack. For years, Jo was focused solely on getting her and their three sons through life, but in 2023 something shifted.

“I could see again; the fog had lifted. I notice things now; I plan ahead, and I'm not scared to do things on my own,” Jo says.

Jo and Andy used to run together, and in 2023 she was suddenly ready to return to running – a decade after completing the Great Birmingham Run, the city’s half marathon. Jo re-started with Couch to 5K and completed the programme in December 2023, which aligned with her seeing an advert for the 2024 Brighton Marathon.

“I just thought, I don’t want to stop running now, so I signed up! My kids can't believe it when I get back home and say I ran an hour today!”

Brighton also holds memories for Jo, as she and Andy visited the city and ate fish and chips on the beach. She’ll be taking on the route to celebrate her love of running, her return to doing things she’d left behind when she lost Andy, and to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

Cardiovascular issues can be genetic, and Jo wants to support the charity’s mission to help her sons and anyone else who might suffer a heart attack or have cardiovascular problems.  

Chris Terrill, 72, from London/Wilmington

Charity: Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity

Chris will be completing the 2024 Brighton Marathon on crutches for the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Charity, of which he is an ambassador. He will specifically be raising money for the war wounded and those injured while on operations, and their families.

It wasn’t until he was 55 that Chris went through the toughest military training in the world with the Royal Marines to win his green beret. Chris is the only civilian to win a green beret on merit and the oldest person (including the military) to win one.   

“Both my parents served in the Royal Navy during World War II, which is where my original passion for the navy came from. We lived in Brighton in a flat overlooking the Palace Pier and every time I run the half or full marathon, I pass the flat I was born in!”

Chris has run 45 half marathons and 50 marathons around the world, with more than 20 of these events being in Brighton. However, last summer, he broke his hip playing cricket and had a hip replacement at the start of 2024.

Having been the first in his age group at the Brighton Half in 2022, Chris is aiming to be the first Brighton Marathon finisher on crutches (regardless of age group) this year and is looking to complete the distance in less than five hours.

“I know the wonderful Brighton crowds will be supportive and energising but I will be wearing my green beret on the run for extra good luck. Above all – I want to show that neither age nor hip replacement surgery are obstacles to health, fitness and a full life!”

Abbie Ruggles, 28, from Norfolk

Abbie has suffered from poor mental health for many years and has tried to take her own life several times. Most recently, in September 2023, Abbie tried to take her own life twice.

“I was completely shattered by life and giving up on hope,” she says.

But, with the right support from her family and some amazing friends, Abbie managed to pull through.  

Running for Abbie is a release of her emotions and the thoughts in her head, giving her the freedom to just step out of her own mind and into a different head space. “It really has been game changer,” she says. The 2024 Brighton Marathon will be her first-ever marathon.

Abbie wanted to challenge herself and step outside of her running comfort zone, and this is a great way for her to do so as she thrives on setting goals and achieving them.


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