Skip to content

“I’m lucky to call him my brother and best friend”: My motivation for running the London Marathon

Despite being more at home in rugby boots than running trainers, on 21 April 2024, Harry Bassett ran the TCS London Marathon in under 3:30, inspired by his younger brother, Tom, who lives with Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD).

Two men smiling in front of a banner that says Muscular Dystrophy UK. One has a medal on and a vest on the other has a coat and jumper on

This was my first marathon and although I didn’t quite hit my original target time of 3:15, I’m pleased with my time of 3:26. I was training alongside playing a full rugby season as team captain of Honourable Artillery Company RFC, which finished two weeks before the London Marathon, so I was definitely busy. Along with my family, some of my teammates were there on marathon day to support me, which helped to spur me on. I also had the backing of my employer, who boosted my fundraising, so I really feel I achieved my aim of raising awareness as well as fundraising.

We had no knowledge of the condition

When it came to choosing a charity, it was an easy decision to run this marathon for Muscular Dystrophy UK. My younger brother, Tom was diagnosed with FSHD, a genetic muscle wasting condition, when he was 14, over 11 years ago now.

Before Tom’s diagnosis, my family and I had no knowledge of FSHD or other muscle wasting conditions. So, for me, running the London Marathon was an opportunity to help raise awareness of muscular dystrophy as well as fundraising for the charity that supports people with the condition.

It’s my hope that through sharing our family’s experience, more and more people can understand what muscular dystrophy is and find out how Muscular Dystrophy UK supports individuals and families. As well as raising awareness, I wanted to raise as much as possible for the charity to help fund research into treatments. Not only to help Tom, but others living with the condition.

I ran the marathon for Tom

At the time of his diagnosis, Tom was told he had to stop playing rugby, which was tough as it’s something we both love. Over the years, everyday tasks have become increasingly challenging for him. But Tom is exceptional. It’s in his character – he just gets on with things.

So, I ran this marathon for Tom and the charity with the hope that ongoing research into an effective treatment is successful soon.

“Running a marathon was the least I could do to help support a truly special person who I’m lucky to call my brother and best friend.”

It was the most positive day out I’ve ever experienced

I was a mixture of nervous and extremely excited on the start line! A lot of training had gone in before the actual day, so you just want everything to go well during the race itself. I can genuinely say it was the most positive day out I’ve ever experienced – the support from family, friends and MDUK cheer points were so important in keeping me going.

I had headphones in my pocket, but I didn’t use them once as the atmosphere was that good. I must have had my name shouted out by about 500 random people I’ve never met as they could see it on my vest. It was all a bit surreal!

Seeing the MDUK team just before Tower Bridge was very special as that’s when the race started to get pretty tough. I can’t thank the team enough for their support – it’s what got me to the finish line!

My employer helped to boost fundraising

When I decided to take on this challenge, I set myself a target to raise £2,500 for Muscular Dystrophy UK. When I mentioned it at work, my employer, Brit Insurance, told me that they would donate £2 for every £1 I raised so that really got me motivated to smash my fundraising target. Thanks to my employer’s generous contribution, I’ve managed to raise just over £23,000 excluding Gift Aid.

I’ll remain part of Team MDUK

I’m not sure I’m ready to sign up for another marathon just yet, but I’d absolutely recommend anyone, irrespective of their running ability, to take on a marathon on behalf of Muscular Dystrophy UK. And I’ll definitely be back to volunteer at next year’s London Marathon and cheer on everyone running for #TeamMDUK

Stay connected with our community

Get the latest news, inspiring stories, upcoming events, and valuable support services delivered straight to your inbox.