Challenge complete - our marathon runners cross the finish line

On 3 April, two runners laced up their trainers and hit the streets of Paris to run a marathon in aid of AzuKo. Justin and Jo raised a staggering £2507 to support our current project in Jogen Babu Maath slum. Hear how they got on...

(Photo: Paris marathon)

(Photo: Paris marathon)

Last Sunday we took on our biggest challenge yet. 42 kilometres through the streets of Paris. 19 degrees and not a cloud in sight. Thankfully the fire brigade was out in force with their hoses, to keep us cool.

Alongside 43,000 runners we set off at the Arc de Triomphe and down the magnificent Champs-Élysées. We trained in London, navigating the Dickensian streets for four months - now lay ahead of us boulevards so straight and so long, the finish line seemed unreachable. The sound of feet pounding the pavement becomes our soundtrack. Just need to keep moving forward. Every step, every kilometre, brings us closer to home.

(Map: Paris marathon app)

(Map: Paris marathon app)

A glance to the right to sneak a peek at the Louvre, before regaining focus and taking on more fluids to fight the heat. We begin to climb Avenue Daumesnil before the first of two off road sections in the 12th arrondissement. As we emerge from the trees, we've reached the half way point. A half marathon done, one more to go. Legs. Still. Going. Strong?

We've all heard of the wall. How you manage to push past it will come down to you and you alone. But no-one mentioned multiple walls... multiple barricades. The first one hits us at around 23 kilometres on the banks of the river Seine.

With the Eiffel tower soaring over us, the sun beats down, the distance between water stations seems to lengthen, every molehill is a mountain. But the sound of just one voice from the crowd, “Allez Justin... Allez Jo” makes us run tall, again.
(Photos: J. Brown / Tag Heuer)

(Photos: J. Brown / Tag Heuer)

We pass Notre-Dame. It's judgement day. We pass the Musée d'Orsay and reach the 30 kilometre milestone. Pain is starting to set in now. It's moving from the knee to the left hip to the arch of the right foot. This can't be right, it's only in the mind. Just keep running.

As we enter the Bois de Bologne, we can almost taste the finish line. 10 kilometres - that's just another hour, right!? But it's too difficult to keep up the pace. The slower you get, the further away the finish line drifts. We begin to recognise faces. These people will become our family in the last exhausting moments. You start to build stories in your mind about who they are, and why they're running. All shapes and sizes, doing what they can to become heroes for a day. We're willing each other on. A runner stops to catch his breath. We shout to remind him we're in it together and will finish it together.

Counting down the kilometres now, 9... 8... 7... 6... the 5 kilometre signpost is in sight. Come on hip, stay with me. The pain is no longer in the mind. It's real. It's very real. Just keep moving.

4... 3... 2... 1 kilometre to go! Where is that finish line!?

... and there it is. After months of gruelling training in the wind and rain and snow, it's ahead of us. Right there. Tears well up in the eyes. Come on legs, bring us home. The crowd is deafening. Courage in those final steps. Keep it together. Run tall.

Thoughts of every single person who has supported us and who is cheering for us now, choke the throat. This is for you. This is for Jogen Babu Maath.

42.195 kilometres... done. 5 hours 36 minutes. Paris marathon you have been the challenge of a lifetime.

(Photos: Paris marathon / J. Brown)

(Photos: Paris marathon / J. Brown)

Justin and Jo would like to thank their amazing supporters:

Allan Green / Andra Antone / Andrea Chorlton / Andrew Lewis / Anne Ashbridge / Beth Ashbridge / Cathy Russell / Chris Atkinson / Clare Willan / Craig More / Dee Formaggia / Dimitra Dantsiou / Dov Querfurth / Ed Sayce / Elaine Proud / Eleanor Earl / Elyse Howell-Price / Emma Wheatley / Emily Butt / Gabriella Piccolo / Gary Marshall / George Knott / George Proud / Glen Barlow / Grace Murray / Graham Nicol / Grant Sellars / Hannah Bryan / Hannah Dunnell / Hilary Battye / Janine Brown / Jenny Thomas / Jim Ashbridge / Jim Brown / Joey Augustin / John Harkness / Jon Humphreys / Julia Phillips / Justin Goh / Katherine Thomas / Keren Querfurth / Lucie Murray / Luke Davis / Lynne Ashbridge / Mahdi Hajiaghayi / Mark Thompson / Martin Battye / Maureen Brown / Molly Ashbridge / Paul Esslemont / Philippa Battye / Pilvi Haltunnen / Rachael Atkinson / Rachel Esslemont / Reinier Zeldenrust / Ruth Baker / Sam Bartlett / Sarah Wai / Stephen Ashbridge / Steve Baumann / Terry Ward / William Bartlett

Interested in taking on a personal challenge to support AzuKo's work? Find out more information on our fundraising page >>