This Sunday four runners will line-up at the start of the Virgin Money London Marathon to raise money towards Fields in Trust's work to protect, support and champion green spaces for good. For one member of our team, however, the 26.2 miles ahead will be the end of a 6,000 mile journey which has brought him across hemispheres.
Michael Ndlovu is a 52-year old groundsman from Durban in South Africa. To join his fellow runners on the start line on Sunday he will already have boarded a plane for the first time ever and will fulfil a lifetime ambition to run an international marathon.
As a groundsman, Michael knows the value of free access to good quality, well-maintained parks and green spaces, and he is proud to be raising funds for Fields in a Trust.
His journey has been made possible by his employer: commercial property business Urban Lime Properties. The company employs Michael as a groundsman and has supported his trip to London. Urban Lime CEO, Jonny Friedman, said: "Michael runs at least 20km to and from work each and every day - his passion for running is an inspiration to us all. Urban Lime is very proud to have Michael represent Durban and South Africa in one of the most elite marathons in the world".
Donations from the local and international community will be matched, Rand-for-Rand and Pound-for-Pound by Urban Lime.
Fields in Trust Head of Programmes, Angela Lewis, praised Michael's efforts: "We are grateful to all fundraisers who go the extra mile to support Fields in Trust – and Michael is going an extra six thousand and twenty-six miles... and 385 yards to help us fund our work protecting parks and green spaces for people to enjoy forever".
To run in the London Marathon is extremely competitive. A record number of 386,050 runners applied for just 38,000 highly sought after spots this year. Alongside the world-class professional runners thousands run to raise funds for charity and joining Michael on the start line supporting Fields in Trust will be Petra Morris, Summen Kashif and Keeley Ryan.
Michael has an impressive track record, having competed in the Comrades Marathon in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa for the last 20 years and in 2017 placed top in his age 50+ category. He also represents his province in long distance running, but runs regardless of reward or recognition. Michael says: "I will run until I die, running is my life. All I want is to become better, race after race". Predictions are that he will finish near the front of his non-professional, age 50+ category on Sunday. Michael runs as a beacon of hope for Durban and South Africa, proving that if you are dedicated enough, dreams really do come true.
You can support Michael by donating to his fundraising page online.
You can also support Petra, Summen and Keeley by visiting their JustGiving pages.
If you're inspired to take part in a challenge event to raise funds in support of our work, just get in touch and one of our team will get back to you very soon!