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Retired England rugby player Charlie Hodgson tackles the London Marathon

15 March 2023

Charlie Hodgson, the retired Saracens, Sale Sharks, and England rugby union player, is taking on the London Marathon in support of Muscular Dystrophy UK (MDUK). He tells us about why he decided to swap his rugby boots for his running shoes in support of people living with muscle-wasting conditions.

Why are you fundraising for MDUK?  

I’ve attended MDUK’s Celebrity Sports Quiz events at Lords Cricket Ground and every time I go, I am completely humbled by the personal stories that are shared by the families living with muscle-wasting conditions.   

Hearing Louisa Hill, one of MDUK’s Trustees, speak about her son, Archie, 17, who lives with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, inspired me to take on the challenge. I was so moved to hear about everything her family has done, from fundraising to campaigning for access to treatments like Translarna, as well as running multiple marathons! 

Feeling a bit of pain through the training, and potentially the race, pales into insignificance when you hear of the difficulty felt by those who are living with muscular dystrophy. It’s heartbreaking to know there isn’t a cure yet, but the money that I raise will hopefully be a small contribution toward helping reach groundbreaking treatments. 

Why did you decide to enter the London Marathon 2023?  

When the opportunity came up to run the London Marathon for MDUK, I jumped at the chance.  

I have heard such amazing things from other people who have run the London Marathon and in the back of my mind, it’s always been something that I’d like to complete. So, this was not only a selfish opportunity to run it but more importantly a chance to raise awareness and raise some valuable funds for an amazing charity.

How did you feel when you accepted your place with MDUK’s #TeamOrange? 

That’s when it became real. I felt excited and nervous – and still do! 

I have struggled to consistently stay fit since retirement from rugby in 2016, so I knew getting to the start line would be a challenge in itself. Every time I feel I’m getting somewhere with running I end up back to square one with a calf or back injury.

I had to pull out of the October 2022 London Marathon due to injury, so it’s going to take some effort to get there this time. It’s going to take me completely out of my comfort zone and it’ll take a huge amount of effort to even get to the start line, on Sunday 23 April, given my history of rugby injuries, but I’m doing everything I can so I can get to enjoy it.

How is your training going?

It’s been good so far. Things are ramping up, but after running a half marathon recently, I am questioning how I’m going to complete a full marathon!

I like being able to tick off little milestones, and seeing my progress is great. Everything we did as rugby players was short and intense. Plus, we were in the gym doing strengthening work all the time too. This is the first time where I must learn to pace myself and not get carried away. I have been so used to getting my heart rate up to the max and being able to maintain that, but I am now in a position where it’s learning something completely new. It’s a challenge but I like it.

There are a few other rugby union players taking part in the London Marathon this year, such as Chris Robshaw, and I hear Shane Williams is running too. Shane has done Ironman triathlons so this will be a walk in the park for him! Robbo has just finished playing and was one of the fittest players around. Not that I’m getting my excuses in early, but if I beat either of them, I will be very surprised!  

What are you most looking forward to about taking part?  

Finishing… just kidding (well partly!) 

I’m looking forward to hearing the crowds and just taking it all in. I’ve heard so many good things about the day. My wife, Daisy, and children, Henry, Anastasia, Jack, Freddie and Sam will also be there to cheer me on, so it’ll be great seeing them at certain points along the course.  

When it’s over, I’ll definitely sit and take a few minutes to reflect on my achievement. I’ll also enjoy watching the other runners crossing the finish line.  

What’s next with MDUK?

I’m looking forward to attending the Celebrity Sports Quiz again in June. That’s the only thing I have planned right now, but I’m open to suggestions! 

Join Charlie and the rest of #TeamOrange at the London Marathon, either as a runner or as part of our cheer squad, and show the world how much #MusclesMatter.

To support Charlie’s London Marathon efforts, you can donate to his JustGiving page.

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