When you think of the people who inspire you most, what characteristics do they possess? Strength? Talent? Bravery? Determination? Rachel Brown has all four.
Finding strength through running, the Merseyside mum overcame depression, the death of her father and completely reinvented herself. Along the way, Rachel created an inspiring community of 600 plus runners , ‘Mums to Marathons’, who have raised over £200,000 for Claire House Children’s Hospice.
Before discovering running, Rachel had struggled with depression for over twenty years. In her younger days, Rachel was a professional dancer and travelled abroad with her talents to the Far East. However, later in life, she became very conscious of the way she looked. After the birth of her three children she was left with post-natal depression, had put on a lot of weight and didn’t feel happy with her body.
She said: “I was three stone heavier and I hated myself, I was so paranoid about my weight and someone had told me running was the best exercise for losing weight. I couldn’t run a mile, but I just kept trying and, within a year, I’d ran a marathon.”
Five years ago, the idea of Mum’s to Marathons was born when Rachel was pounding the streets of Wirral, and she suddenly had a moment of clarity.
She said: “When you’re a little girl, everything is innocent, but you come to realise that life isn’t perfect. However, in that moment of realisation, I felt absolutely content. It sent goose pimples through my whole body. I thought, ‘I’m a mum and I’ve ran a marathon.’ I just felt like crying. I went home and poured my heart out in a post on Facebook.”
That night, Rachel stayed awake until the late hours reading heartfelt messages from women all over Merseyside, who identified with her story, asking if they could join her.
Now, Mums to Marathons has a membership of over 600 women. There are hubs of runners around the UK, and Rachel is opening two new hubs in Liverpool and Warrington in the coming months.
Within each hub, the groups are closer than family, and say, “We’re sisters from other mothers”. There is also a hub in Australia, and the clubs ethos, “It’s not about the finishing time, it’s the finishing line” is reaching women all over the world.
The idea of raising money wasn’t initially in Rachel’s plan when she started running, but many people wanted to sponsor her along her journey. She said: “Friends asked if I was taking sponsorship for my running and I chose Claire House because the hospice had looked after my friend’s children before they sadly passed away. I went up to the fundraising building and the rest is history.”
Rachel has now ran the London marathon and trekked through the Sahara desert for Claire House. This October, she will be climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and will be combating the Grand Canyon next March, with a group from her Mums to Marathons running family.
Rachel is keen to convey that you don’t have to be affected by depression, or a mum, to join Mums to Marathons.
She said: “There are women out there who are feeling low and past their sell-by date. But you only have one life and I don’t want anybody in this world to be sad, especially women.”
If Rachel’s incredible story resonates with you, and you want to join the ever-growing running family, you can contact Rachel through her website, www.mumstomarathons.co.uk or through the Facebook group ‘Rachel’s Mums to Marathons.’
Nearly 100 runners from Mums 2 Marathons will be running the WR10K Liverpool race for Claire House. If you want to do something amazing and run to support Claire House, please email [email protected] or call 0151 343 0883 for your free fundraising pack and running vest.
Words: Christy Jade Biggar