St Giles Hospice is offering one lucky fundraiser the chance to run this year’s London Marathon after the hospice was awarded its first-ever charity place at the iconic event.

With the public ballot for this year’s marathon now closed, persuading St Giles that they deserve its precious ticket will be one of the few ways left for keen runners to find themselves at the starting line on Sunday, 3rd October.

Competition for places at the London Marathon – widely regarded as one of the best in the world – is always fierce. In 2020 more than 450,000 people applied for the 40,000 places available in the ballot.

The few remaining places are awarded to top athletes and selected charities – and St Giles has been incredibly lucky to be awarded a charity place.

Mark Shanahan celebrates after running his 20th marathon in one year for St Giles Hospice.

The charity place has been given to the hospice following a year its fundraising activities were badly hit by the COVID-19 crisis and London Marathon organisers were forced to restrict the 2020 event to professional athletes only.

Elinor Eustace, Income Generation Director at St Giles Hospice, said: “This is the first time that St Giles has ever been able to get a London Marathon place and we hope it’s a good sign for 2021 as we plan a return to fundraising events and activities in the year ahead.

“We’re really happy and excited to be able to offer this coveted place to one lucky runner and we’re hoping as many applicants as possible will contact us to let us know why they should be given our London Marathon place.

“We’ll then pick the fantastic fundraiser who can most successfully tell us how they can help the hospice to raise the funds we need to support patients living with a terminal illness and their families.

“Our charity champion will then join #TeamStGiles to experience the amazing atmosphere at this huge international event – and we’d like to invite any runners who have won a place in the ballot to join us as well so that we can all enjoy the magic of the London Marathon together.”

One keen runner who knows the true value of the hospice’s charity place is Mark Shanahan, 31, from Sutton Coldfield. Mark – who ran 20 marathons in 2020 and raised more than £10,000 for St Giles Hospice – has entered the ballot eight times in previous years without success.

He said: “The London Marathon is such a famous event and the demand for places is phenomenal. This is a brilliant opportunity for someone to enjoy a unique experience while helping a hospice which supports so many local people.

“Running any marathon really puts you through your paces, but London is special. The feeling you’ll get when you cross that finish line will be absolutely amazing.”

Last year Mark decided to raise money for St Giles in memory of his uncle, Gerard ‘Gez’ Brennan, a Marston’s Brewery worker who died from cancer in February 2019. In the two years before his death Gez attended support groups at the hospice’s centre in Sutton Coldfield.

After taking part in five official marathons last spring, Mark’s timetable was devastated when all remaining events in his schedule were cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic – but still he kept running. His sixth marathon took place in his garden and his seventh on his drive, and once lockdown was over Mark hit the streets and parks around Sutton Coldfield to complete his epic challenge.

“The experience of marathon running is even more rewarding when you do it for a charity,” Mark added. “Running for St Giles meant a lot to me and I found it really emotional. It was a fantastic way to give something back to a great cause which meant so much to my family.

“Going to St Giles Hospice made such a difference to my uncle as he was able to be with people who understood and were in the same situation as him. The friendship and support they gave him was invaluable.

“It was a great comfort to us to know that they were there for Gez – and for us – when we needed them. St Giles is really important for the local community and I wanted to help make sure that their support would still be available for other families when they need it most.”

Anyone with a ballot place can join #TeamStGiles for the marathon and all runners will receive support from a dedicated fundraising team member as well as an exclusive St Giles running vest, a training plan, a bespoke fundraising pack and route information so that friends and family know the best locations to cheer them on from.

The charity place winner will have to pay a £100 registration fee and pledge to raise a minimum of £2,500 for the hospice.

To apply for the St Giles Hospice London Marathon place visit here. For further information about joining #TeamStGiles for the London Marathon email