What it’s like to be a Grassroots Runner – Spotlight on Jo Phillimore and friends

The Grassroots Runners are an amazing group of fundraisers who play a vital role in protecting our communities from suicide. Their fundraising breaks stigma, empowers communities and helps people get the support they need.

2021 holds so much promise for the Grassroots Runners, after a year of cancelled events and waiting in anticipation. We’ve interviewed a few of our wonderful Grassroots Runners from 2020 to get their insight on fundraising through such an uncertain and unparalleled time and motivate those preparing for their upcoming events.

Jo waves to the crowd whilst running on Madeira Drive.

Our first interview is with Jo Phillimore who took part in the Virtual 2020 London Marathon with a group of friends, and together they raised almost double their fundraising target! As they made their way across the South Downs, the dreadful weather conditions tested their limits – but still they pulled through.

Here’s what Jo had to say:

Which event did you take part in?

On October 4th, my friends and I did the Virtual London Marathon on the South Downs Way.

What made you want to support Grassroots?

We wanted to support a local mental health charity so Grassroots was perfect. Grassroots seems like such a proactive organisation, enabling people to get help before it’s too late.

What does running mean to you?

Everything. It has been life changing for me. If I get out and do 10k, rain or shine, it’s never a bad day. I have made so many good friends through running and had some amazing experiences like the Dubai vertical marathon and the Dubai marathon, I ran with my best friend in 2013. We chatted and laughed for 30km. For the last 12 km there wasn’t much laughing!

“There were so many highlights: breath-taking views, communal weeing, so so many funny tales.”

Jo holding an award.

What was the highlight of your marathon experience last year?

October 4th last year brought some biblical weather, torrential rain 40 mph winds, and I had arranged for 14 good friends, not to mention a support crew ranging from 4-year-olds through to pensioners to be exposed on the South Downs way, so there were definitely some lowlights: getting lost, hypothermia, injuries, arguments (that was me and my husband).

But also so many highlights: breath-taking views, communal weeing, so so many funny tales. Getting to the River Adur and hot soup and of course finishing and raising nearly £5000. I’m so grateful to all the girls, they were such troopers: Cindy Kay, Candice Davis, Jo Lloyd, Claire Tucker, Julia Jeyes, Amanda Lorenzani, Lou Murie, Rebecca Habba, Caroline Chaloner, Meg Kharmani, Jo Bunday, Emma Habba, and Victoria Nixon and to the support crew Iain, Mark, Mark, Niall and Simon.

What piece(s) of advice would you give to this year’s runners?

Train hard, race easy. Follow a plan, get the miles in your legs and do everything in your power to get to the start line without an injury. (Oh and constantly harass your friends for money!)

Find out more about the Grassroots Runners