Freya comes to RunThrough events around London as the Human Disco Ball – dressed in her recognisable mirrorball suit – and leads everyone in disco warmups. She has warmed up the crowd at the London Half Marathon on 5th March and because of that we asked her to tell us more about the reason behind the Human Disco Ball campaign.

Runner Feature - Freya Morgan (Human Disco Ball) RunThrough Running Club London

A big part of running for me has always been the community. Ironically, I have spent many training miles alone preparing for half marathons, marathons and ultras. The best runs are the times you go out with other runners though. Running really is a sport for everyone – I can testify to this as I have regularly been lapped at RunThrough events by athletes 40+ years older than me – and it is has a community that makes you feel at home.

I cannot tell you how many congratulations hugs I have had at the finish line from random people I have never met. Or strangers who have become friends over the course of a race. I chose to use running to make a difference because running changed my life. I
started running when I was 16 after a major depression left me unwell. My Dad was a runner and encouraged me to give it a go. I was not sporty but apprehensively went for my first jog on 1st January 2012.

I wanted to quit so many times after that day. I could not run for more than a minute! But slowly my confidence grew and by the time I was 18 I was running 50 kilometres a week and ready for my first marathon. Since that first run 11 years ago, I have run 10 marathons and maybe 30 or 40 half marathons.

Running has remained a big part of my life and I have used it to raise money for Cancer Research, the Samaritans, The Listening Place, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station and the British Red Cross. So after I read about the experiences of refugees suffering with their mental health and isolation, I knew I had to use running to help.

Running had changed my life and now it was my turn to try and pass it on to someone else who needed its impact. I approached Bail for Immigration Detainees and we came up with the Human Disco Ball campaign to fundraise to protect life-saving services for refugees.

Sadly, there has been a lot of negative media around refugees. In the last year, there have been changes in the law, decisions around deportation and tragic deaths in detention. In the face of that, we wanted to 1) change the message around the cause, and 2) raise £120,000 to improve the support available to refugees.

We combined running and disco to create a crazy campaign, a 2,500-kilometre challenge with discos and races and raves that also includes me running 200-kilometre non-stop from Clifton Suspension Bridge to London… dressed as a disco ball.

So why a disco ball?

Runner Feature - Freya Morgan (Human Disco Ball) RunThrough Running Club London

Everyone loves a disco! Everyone loves to move and dance. It also changes the tone around the refugee cause and brings people together. I do not mind looking silly and dancing around in a silver suit if it means that it gets everyone else moving and smiling. When I start a disco warmup at a RunThrough race, people are often a bit unsure. By the time we have finished, everyone is having a laugh and ready to go and run. It makes me so happy to see it. And the warmups are only going to get sillier…

The Human Disco Ball has rapidly become something bigger than we ever intended. We have had our own Blue Monday Run, partnered with RunThrough on its London races and been featured on ITV News. Pesky red tape means I cannot share all the exciting events coming up with you just yet, but they will all be shared on the Human Disco Ball Instagram (@_humandiscoball) and website soon.

If you want to come join me and RunThrough for a disco warmup, I will be at Battersea Park 26th April, Regents Park 30th April and Hyde Park 10th May.

And a massive thank you to the RunThrough team who have been incredibly supportive of the Human Disco Ball initiative. I am grateful for every single friendly face at their runs and am proud to be part of such an amazing sports initiative.

If you would like to donate to the Human Disco Ball campaign, you can make a donation here. You can also get in touch on Instagram or via RunThrough if you want to get involved in other ways.

And in case you were wondering… my Dad is still running and we run every time we are together. He is going to join me as a pacer on the big final 200-kilometre run. He might be 67 but he can still run a faster race than me. Thank you Dad for encouraging me on that first run and ever since that day too.

Runner Feature - Freya Morgan (Human Disco Ball) RunThrough Running Club London

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