Runner Feature - Carlo Mullen RunThrough Running Club London

Media City 5-10K 29 June 20 2023


Just a year and a half ago, if you saw me walking down the street, you wouldn’t have thought, “There goes a runner.” Even looking in the mirror, I’d agree. But fast forward to April 21, 2024, and I’ll be taking on my first London Marathon.

Let’s rewind three years. I was managing my son’s Under 8’s football team, struggling to keep up with the young lads. I was unfit, out of breath during training sessions, and too static during matches. At 40, feeling this way, I knew things had to change. I had the idea to run a 5k with my son, thinking it can’t be that hard, right?

I registered us both for Warrington Park Run, barcodes in hand. We lined up, and I urged my energetic son to keep up with me. We set off, and something changed. He jogged, ran backward, but kept me going. 45 minutes later, I completed a 5k, feeling like it was game over. Putting on a brave face, I drove home, feeling worse than before.

I tried various diets but struggled to stick to them. Time passed, and nothing changed, except for feeling stuck in a rut.

Then one day, an advert popped up for Man V Fat Football, with the tagline, “Lose weight, Play football.” It sounded interesting, though I felt slightly ashamed that I needed to consider this. It took me a few weeks to talk to my wife about it. She encouraged me to go for it.

I mustered the courage to register and attended the session. I realised I wasn’t fit or healthy enough, but this time, I was doing it for a team as well as for myself. I had joined a community of like-minded players, all with the same goal: to lose weight. Week by week, month by month, I lost weight and gained fitness I’d never had before. I played football three times a week, gained confidence, and the shame faded away.

Of course, I had ups and downs in my weight, enjoying the food and drink I should have avoided. But I aimed to be healthier and fitter. People noticed my progress and complimented my transformation.

Because of improved fitness, I decided to try my hand at running. I joined a local group called Warrington Plodders, a supportive community. Over time, I was running with them twice a week.

Runner Feature - Carlo Mullen RunThrough Running Club London

Fast forward to the present. I’ve completed 25 park runs, continuously improving my personal best each week, a long way from that initial 45 minutes. I was ready for a new challenge—the next step had to be a 10k. I found a local event hosted by RunThrough, the 10k at Media City in Manchester. I signed up and loved the event and the atmosphere. It was all so encouraging. I ran my laps and achieved my first 10k time.

Around the same time, I discovered the Warrington Running Festival, also hosted by RunThrough, a run in my town. I was determined to participate, and today, I completed it, shaving nearly 15 minutes off my time. What a great feeling! But hold on! My wife says, “Amazing achievement, take it easy now.”

And now about that…

Earlier this year, I was waiting to start a new job. So, I was browsing the internet at home when an advert came up for the London Marathon. Imagine if I did that? My finger hovered over the register button. “Don’t be daft,” I thought. “Who am I kidding?” Before I knew it, I’d signed up. How did that happen?

I know they have a deadline to announce entrants, and this was some time off, so I forgot about it. But the idea of running slightly further and challenging myself appealed, especially if I could do it for charity. Over the years, I’ve supported various cancer-related charities through bike-related events. Running seemed like a more challenging option.

“Let’s see what half marathons are coming up?” I thought. Oh, the Manchester half! Again, my finger hovered over the register button. “Don’t fall into the same mistake again,” I warned myself. But I fell for it—this time, I knew I was accepted.

Over tea, I spoke to my family and let them know that I’d signed up to run 13 miles. My son nearly fell off his chair with laughter, and my wife was speechless. I explained that I was doing this for Cancer research. Once we all came together, we realized that this would be a big challenge. I also let slip that I was waiting to hear about a place for the London Marathon. Laughter and speechlessness ensued again, with words like, “Are you serious?” echoing around the dining room table.

I reassured them that not everyone gets in, and why would I, with my 45-minute 5k, be accepted?
The day they announced places came. I got the email and… I was not accepted. Relief swept through the family. Just a half marathon to worry about.

This seemed like a good time to focus on my new job and train for the Manchester half marathon. Keep focused.

Until I received an email from Children with Cancer UK, asking if I would like to run the London Marathon on their behalf and to complete a small form explaining why I wanted to raise money for them. As I said earlier, I’ve always liked to support cancer charities, and this seemed ideal for me. So, I completed the form, committing to raise £2,000, and clicked send.

I expected that they receive a lot of these requests.

Runner Feature - Carlo Mullen RunThrough Running Club London

Monday morning, I was in a Teams meeting with my managers when my phone beeped. I took a glance and was welcomed to the Children with Cancer UK London Marathon Team. I must have turned a shade of white because my managers asked me what was wrong. I spoke the words, “I have been accepted for the London Marathon.” I’m not quite sure what happened next or what was said because all I was thinking was, “I have to tell my wife.”

That evening, in a similar scenario to revealing the Manchester marathon, I uttered the words, “Do you remember that I signed up for the London Marathon and didn’t get accepted? Well, that’s changed. I have been accepted to run for a charity.”

Today, I completed the Warrington 10k festival, proudly wearing my Children with Cancer UK t-shirt. I met fellow fundraisers for the same charity, achieved a new 10k PB, and I’m fully prepared for my half marathon in 4 weeks’ time.

For me now, I’ve embarked on a fitness and fundraising journey, with two targets: to complete the London Marathon and to raise £2,000. My fitness journey will include running more 10k events hosted by RunThrough and one or two half marathons.

I have ideas to enhance my fundraising journey. I would appreciate any support along the way, words of encouragement, and, where possible, any contributions to my charity page. See here!

If you want to follow my journey, I’m posting updates on Instagram HERE!

Runner Feature - Carlo Mullen RunThrough Running Club London

Thank you.