The 2017 Brighton Marathon was my second attempt at a marathon. My personal goal was to beat my time from the previous year when I had finished Brighton in 5 hours and 40 seconds. Just finishing had been great, but I knew I could finish in under 5 hours so that was the target.

But much more importantly than achieving a new ‘personal best’ I was also hoping to raise as much money as possible for the wonderful Time 4 Children charity which is based here in Haywards Heath.

I first learned about the charity through the HHDBA (Haywards Heath & district business association) where I discovered that Vicky Chalmers the charity founder was a neighbour of mine. She told me about the amazing work they did for young children here in Mid Sussex. I had already secured my place in the Marathon and it was an easy decision to offer my place to Time 4 Children as a way to try and raise much needed funding for them. Raising money for a big name charity is quite easy, but it’s a very different challenge when it’s a smaller, local charity that many people are unaware of.

I set myself the target of raising £500 and with generous support from friends, family, colleagues and business connections the sponsorship started to build up, and on the day of the event I was able to stand on the start line on April 9th knowing that I have already exceeded my target.

The marathon was much more challenging than the previous year due to the unexpectedly high temperatures on the day and simply finishing was going to be tough, but the good weather had also brought out huge crowds and their support was fantastic as always. The early stages around Brighton centre, out to Ovingdean and back to the centre went ok but as the temperature rose the pace started to drop on the long stretches down Church road in Hove and then on towards the Power station. During a five hour run you use lots of different distractions to try and keep going, but at the forefront of my mind was always the young people that Time 4 Children help every day. They face far tougher challenges than going for a long run.

Leaving the power station behind and getting up onto the seafront I knew I was going to finish ok and started to enjoy the four mile home stretch and with two miles to go I finally had my first look at my total run time. I was still on target and using the crowd support and the thought of the money I had raised I pushed hard for the next twenty minutes towards Madeira Drive and the finish line.

Exhausted but elated, I finally crossed the line. I had achieved my personal goal by finishing in 4 hours and 47 minutes, but much more importantly, I had exceeded my target for Time 4 Children and managed to raise £800. A huge thank you to everyone who so kindly sponsored me.

Stephen Payne, Travel Counsellors