It was the hottest race on record as temperatures in the capital peaked at 23 degrees on Sunday 22 April but our intrepid London Marathon runner Tom Shuttleworth powered on through to raise more than £2,500 for our projects in Democratic Republic of Congo.

“It was really, really hot,” recalls Tom. “I’d spent four months training in the cold and then the hot weather arrived on the day of the race!  

“I got through half way bang on my target time – 1.53 exactly - but realised pretty soon I wasn’t going to be doing that again so I thought I’d slow myself down and try to enjoy it.”

With more than 40,000 people taking part and thousands of spectators lining London’s streets, the city is transformed on marathon day and Tom says the cheering crowds helped him keep going in the unseasonably hot weather.

“The atmosphere is incredible – running around Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, Embankment - people are just going crazy, cheering your name,” he says. “It makes a massive difference; the noise is unbelievable.”

Amid all the outfits and famous faces, getting noticed in the crowds can be difficult but Tom says that running for a smaller charity like ours caught the attention of some spectators.

“Running for a smaller charity means you stand out a bit when you are running I think,” he adds. “There were quite a few people on the way round who spotted the Child Soldiers International t-shirt and one lady who shouted, ‘what a great charity!’”

Tom’s brilliant fundraising efforts will have a real impact on the children we work with. Our projects in DRC are focused on improving the lives of girls returning from armed groups and helping them reintegrate back home through a series of education and community initiatives.

Tom thinks having that transparency on where the money raised was going not only encouraged more sponsors but motivated him during those long 26.2 miles. “As you are running around you start to think about those things and focus on the projects and where the money is going – it keeps you slightly more motivated I think.

“People like giving more to slightly smaller charities I think as they can see where the money is actually going.”

Since 2016 we have helped 177 girls formerly associated with armed groups in DRC return to the classroom and thanks to Tom’s generous donations we are able to build on this and further our work with effected communities.

You can read more about our work in the country here.

Tom may have missed out on a personal best and the weather may have made the race a gruelling one but he’s already eyeing a spot in the 2019 edition.

“It’s amazing how quickly you forget the pain – I’ve signed myself into the ballot for next year but we’ll see how that goes.”

If you would like to fundraise for Child Soldiers International through a sporting or challenge event, please email the team on [email protected].