Marathon challenge for midwife Michelle | Action Medical Research

Touching Lives - September 2015

Marathon challenge for midwife Michelle

Michelle Cooke London marathon runner for Action Medical ResearchHaving worked with families experiencing prematurity or the heartbreak of a birth that hasn’t gone to plan, Michelle Cooke was determined to support Action when a last-minute place in the Virgin Money London Marathon came up.

With just 11 weeks to go before she’d be joining the masses on the start line, Michelle, 35 from Emsworth in Hampshire, agreed to take on the ‘massive challenge’ of running her first ever marathon.

“I felt it was fate as I had been unsuccessful in the ballot,” she says. But being more used to running 5K and 10K events, she had to quickly turbo-charge her training, trying to fit long runs in around work and family.

It is her work, at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, that has made her so passionate about Action and the research we fund to help the most sick and vulnerable babies.

“Our neonatal unit isn’t equipped for really premature or poorly babies so they are transferred to larger units which can offer things like cooling therapy before they come back to continue their recovery,” she explains.

“I have seen the positive outcomes of cooling therapy. When babies have been starved of oxygen during labour and birth, this can give the best possible chance to reduce the effects neurologically.”

Action has invested around £1.2 million into key projects which over the last 25 years have helped develop and improve cooling as a breakthrough therapy for babies. This can help minimise brain damage, reducing the risk of death and severe disability.

“Personally, I have also had a pregnancy loss at 22 weeks so any research into this area is very close to my heart,” she continues.

After a nervous, restless night ahead of the big day, Michelle was relieved to wake up to perfect running weather.

By mile 17 a painful knee and sore hips had started to take their toll but Michelle says: “Thinking about the charity, everyone that had supported me and the heart-breaking situations families go through kept me going during the tough times.”

And the pain hasn’t put her off! She’s been tempted to enter the ballot again for next year.

“I was both mentally and physically exhausted, but would I do it again? You bet I would!” she says.

Michelle’s efforts have raised more than £1,400 for Action. We are very grateful for her support and that of all 48 runners who supported us in this year’s event.

If you’re interested in taking part in next year’s London Marathon, we’d love to have you in our team.

To find out more click here or email running@action.org.uk

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