HIV doctor Emma Rutland could barely run around the block back in lockdown, but now she’s training for her first marathon.
The University Hospitals Sussex consultant is running to raise funds for the Terence Higgins Trust and to highlight the work they do.
Emma, who is clinical lead in Sexual Health & HIV for West Sussex Sexual Health, said: “I’ve never done a race in my life, not even a ParkRun. I started with the couch to 5k, and then a 10k training programme with my son for his Duke of Edinburgh Award, and so I was feeling pretty fit in December.
“At the same time the Terrence Higgins Trust services in West Sussex were de-commissioned with very little notice. I think this, combined with my peri-menopausal, mid-life crisis, meant I was compelled to apply to THT for a charity place for the London Marathon. I now have to put my money where my mouth is and actually do some hard training!
“In terms of a personal challenge, this is pretty enormous.”
Emma, who hopes to raise £2,000, added: “I am so pleased that THT gave me a charity place to run for them. I hope I can really raise awareness of the fantastic work they do. I feel really strongly about the cause.
“I’ve noticed few negative reactions to the Trusts LGBTQ inclusivity agenda and heard it said that campaigning on relevant issues is driven by individuals who identify as LGBTQ. Therefore, I think it is important, as a cisgender heterosexual woman, to demonstrate my commitment to being an LGBTQ & HIV ally, to advocate and raise awareness.
“I have had the privilege to work in partnership with THT for many years for the mutual benefit of our service users. As an HIV Consultant, I also strongly endorse their accurate, unbiased health promotion campaigns which also challenge HIV stigma. For example the ‘Can’t pass it on’ campaign based on the fact that people living with HIV on effective treatment are at zero risk of transmission and the education and promotion of HIV Pre-exposure prophylaxis. THT also support the UK HIV Action plan to end new cases of HIV by 2030 by urging everyone to know their HIV status.
The London Marathon is on Sunday 2 October, so Emma has a couple of months more training and fundraising to go.
She said: “My target is £2000 and I’m already 30% of the way there and that’s just friends and family. I haven’t really done any hard fundraising yet, so I’m really pleased with that so far. I need to start ramping it up a bit now.
“I’ve started running half marathon distances in training so I’m thinking ‘I can do this,’ now. My target is to raise as much money as I can for THT – and get round and still walk the next day!”
If anyone wants to sponsor Emma visit her donation page.