Laura tackles 13.1 miles for Leuka

Laura johnson running Great North Run in support of Leuka's leukaemia research

04th December 2017

Back in September supporter Laura Johnson completed the tough 13.1 miles that is the Great North Run in aid of Leuka’s work. Here to tell us about the day is Laura herself…grab a cup of tea and settle in for a read!

My name is Laura Johnson and I ran the Great North Run in September 2017 in aid of Leuka. I knew that I wanted to run either for a Leukaemia related charity or for a military charity as my Husband is a serving member of the Royal Air Force. In the end I chose Leuka as it is a charity very close to my heart.

Laura Johnson and dad at her wedding

My dad was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia on 1 Feb 2013. When he saw the specialist, he was offered a place locally on a drugs trial. The results have been incredible and he is currently in full remission. My dad is very inspirational man who has always been there for me no matter what. Both he and my mum have dealt with the diagnosis in such an amazingly positive and dignified way - they haven’t made a fuss and have done everything they can to carry on as normal. The support they received from the specialists and the level of monitoring he has received due to being on the trial has made such a difference to them.

I got married a few months before his diagnosis and he was poorly on the day (little did we know at that time, why he was so tired and struggling), having to take himself to bed after the service and wedding breakfast. However, being the person he is, he showed no sign to me during the course of the day that he was feeling the way he was.  He smiled throughout and this just sums up everything about him.

Sometimes, being the family member of someone diagnosed, you often feel quite useless. Due to our military life, we don’t even live close to my parents, currently living 7 hours away from them and recently moved back from 3 years on a base in Cyprus. I wanted to give something back to the charities who support and enable the drugs trials which make such a difference, and also to show my dad that I wanted to help.

Would I ever run a half marathon or fundraise for Leuka again? Yes to both!

I chose to run the GNR as I had taken up running over the previous 2 years and being a Geordie, born and bred, it is the race which I have grown up with and always wanted to be able to take part of (but never been fit enough!).

This was my second half marathon, my first having being along the coast of Cyprus, running between 2 military camps. Definitely both very different experiences!

My training was going very well while in Cyprus, however, we moved back to the UK on 1 July and so organizing an international move in the middle of training wasn’t ideal!  I also had a fall whilst on a training run along the canal with one of my dogs.  I damaged my knee substantially and unfortunately, the injury didn’t completely recover before the GNR.

Fundraising was easier than it has been before. I put this down to the large amount of friends and colleagues of my mum and dad who all donated and sponsored me. They all wanted to make a little bit of difference in his name. My Justgiving page was shared daily by either myself, my husband or my parents and I also set up the text donation option.

Laura finishes Great North Run

The Race day was very exciting! I traveled from my parents’ house in Cumbria with my parents and my youngest son. They dropped me near the start line and then went to wait for me at the finish line. I was in pain with my knee before I even started, but I was determined that I was going to finish the race for everyone who has sponsored me. 

The race itself seemed to go very quickly. I ran with my friend Nicki who had traveled from Stamford and also met up with my Husband's step-mum who was also taking part. By mile 9 though, every step on my right leg was incredibly painful and Nicki was also in pain, so we took it slow for a while and walked 2 miles, we made sure we were back to running to finish though!

Afterwards I was so sore!! It was very emotional crossing the finish line, and I was very pleased that my parents were waiting slightly back from the finish line with my son, as it gave me time to compose myself.  

It was an amazing sense of achievement and I can’t wait to do it again next year!

If you’re thinking about running a half marathon but you’re not sure, I say go for it! Life is too short to want to do something and not give it a bash! Just make sure to plan your training:  most big races will be able to give you an online plan based on your current ability and timescale. Good luck!


Thank you Laura for being a superstar and running the GNR for us! If you’re thinking a race or challenge is just what your 2018 needs to get off to a great start, visit our fundraising pages for some great ideas!