The biggest Virgin Money London Marathon yet is taking place on October 3rd this year, with 100,000 runners taking on the challenge. Amongst them is Charlton Athletic supporter Ben Linden, who has signed up to raise funds for Charlton Athletic Community Trust (CACT).
Back in March, Ben participated in Race Europe, which saw 14 London football clubs race across Europe in a virtual activity challenge. Charlton fans made up more than 25 per cent of the overall participants, and Ben ran 5k every day, finishing with a half marathon on the last day, which was certainly good practice for the 26.2-mile course he will be tackling on October 3rd.
Ben, who grew up on Victoria Way in Charlton, round the corner from The Valley, attended his first match in 2001 when he was just six-years old.
20 years on, he still remembers his early memories of supporting Charlton: “It was a bit easier for me growing up compared to kids nowadays because I had the glory years of Charlton’s Premier League football. I imagine kids now might be tempted into supporting a London-based Premier League team, but for me that was Charlton at the time.”
Ben first became aware of CACT’s work through supporting Charlton, but from living in Greenwich he has noticed its work in the community a lot more of late:
“I’ve always known about the stuff CACT do and the work they get involved in, especially with things like the Upbeats which gets a lot of exposure through the Club. I think for me the pandemic really highlighted the work CACT does, they were even going round doing vulnerable people’s shopping when they couldn’t go out and I saw that they were quite involved with the vaccination campaign. Even as I’ve been training, running round the Borough I’ve seen people from CACT in the tracksuit out and about.”
Since the first COVID-19 outbreak, CACT staff have made more than 250,000 calls to residents; over 16,500 referrals and emergency food deliveries to more than 3,250 households through the Royal Borough of Greenwich Community Hub.
Ben sees CACT’s efforts as vital to the pandemic response, and all our programmes have now resumed in person sessions following the end of lockdown restrictions. He feels “proud” to be running the marathon to raise funds for the organisation, which also delivers a wide range of programmes in Bexley and across Kent.
“I’ve found it quite the privilege to be able to run the marathon for them [CACT] and actually running the marathon for a cause that I can see the really good work that they do first-hand. It’s really motivating especially on the longer training runs.”
Everyone at CACT would like to wish Ben the very best of luck on Sunday, October 3rd.