Why I created The Twelve Day Marathon

19 December 2023

Olivia holding her baby in the garden

We caught up with MS Trust fundraiser, Olivia to talk about her MS journey and her new event, The Twelve Day Marathon.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your MS journey. 

I’m a 33 year old mum of one, avid runner and NHS Dietitian. My MS came on completely out of the blue.

I was eight months post-partum and had just been at a soft-play with my daughter when I noticed my left leg felt numb. This soon spread up to my hip and I noticed my balance was off. If I tried to run, I just tumbled to the left and fell over.

I originally put it down to a trapped nerve and all the baby wearing I had been doing… It was only when I started experiencing weakness with my left hand and trouble with swallowing that I knew something was wrong. 

I'm forever grateful to my GP and the medical team that I had around me, because they wasted no time in getting me an MRI which found both brain and spinal lesions. I then travelled to Queens Square, London to have a lumbar puncture and the results from this confirmed my diagnosis of relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis.

If I’m completely honest, I don’t think the diagnosis has fully hit me yet, but I try to remain positive about it most days. I'm fortunate that my doctors worked quickly, which allowed me to access treatment ASAP. I know some people can be left in limbo for years.

I’m back running again, which feels very different now – I’m regaining my fitness post-partum, but also learning to run with the residual symptoms that my relapse has left me with. 

I feel extremely lucky each time I get to lace up my trainers for a run now and I hope to run for as long as my body allows me to! That's why I've signed up to run the London Marathon 2024, to show myself that my body can still do the things I love. 

Why did you decide to fundraise for the MS Trust?

The MS Trust really helped me with advice when I was first diagnosed and helped with information regarding my treatment options. It's the first place I have directed friends and family to, to learn more about the condition, and it's a place I can always turn to for support – so it was a no brainer to be able to fundraise and give back!

Tell us about The Twelve Day Marathon.

I wanted to create a fundraising event that allowed others to get involved with my marathon journey. We realised that what started out as something for friends and family, could in fact be open to everyone. 

The Twelve Day Marathon is the marathon for all – a virtual event taking place over the 12 days of Christmas whereby participants need to complete the distance of a marathon within this time frame. You can run, jog, walk or wheelchair race, and break it up however you like. 

We have had some people tell us they plan to complete it in one day, and others who will complete roughly two miles per day. No matter how you choose to complete your miles, you will get a big snowflake marathon medal through the post upon completion. Plus, you will have helped fundraise for the MS Trust. 

What a great way to keep active over the festive period, whilst helping a great cause! You can read more and enter The Twelve Day Marathon

What advice would you give anyone new to the world of MS?

If you are currently going through the possibility of a diagnosis or have just been diagnosed, use the MS Trust for information and support. The website is invaluable and can help you make more sense of it all. Plus, it can help you feel prepared for your neurologist or MS nurse appointments. 

Most of all, the MS Trust makes you feel less alone.