My London Marathon venture

By Ian Davis, MapAction’s Fundraising & Marketing Director

Ian Davis wearing a MapAction branded running t-shirt which says 'Ian' on it.

I’m 56, unfit and with the build of the wrong kind of Chippendale (short-legged wooden furniture, not under dressed male dancer). So why on earth am I running the London Marathon?

Because I’m raising money for MapAction, an organisation that enables mapping, GIS and data experts to volunteer their time and expertise to humanitarian emergencies. Yes, I know it sounds a bit geeky but what our volunteers can do makes the difference between vital aid arriving to the people who desperately need it, in time or not. MapAction volunteers sometimes work from home, but they are equally willing to jump on a plane, in the middle of a pandemic, and sit in a sweltering tent in Haiti, Guatemala or anywhere else. 

Because, whilst I’ve been grumbling and groaning my way around the highways and byways of Oxfordshire in training, some of our volunteers have been doing just that in support of the response to the recent earthquake in Haiti.

I’ve had my path blocked by the odd deer, dog or heron on my travels, but at least the tarantulas are quiet around Oxfordshire at this time of year, and I don’t worry much about kidnappings or gunfights between armed gangs.

Please remember, by sponsoring me, or any of my fellow runners (see links below), you are really sponsoring the work of our amazing volunteers and this small but very important organisation. By doing it through one of our London Marathon fundraising pages, it’s also really easy to add Gift Aid which makes your donation go even further (and yes, it will make us all feel a little better as we try to complete this epic race).

My fundraising page


Also taking part:

Arron Berdanier

Tim Davis

Paul Rogers

Ed Wallington

Raising vital funds through the London Marathon

Five heroic individuals are gearing up to run the 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon for MapAction.

Our runners (and their fundraising pages) are:


Aaron Berdanier – running virtually

Tim Davis

Ian Davis

Paul Rogers

Ed Wallington

Ian Davis, who is Director of Fundraising and Communications at MapAction, is running this year and says:

“2021 is going to be MapAction’s most challenging year due to the funding landscape.”

“Hopefully by pledging to complete my first marathon at 56 and not being naturally suited to running, I can raise extra funds by showing just how much I believe in MapAction’s vital work.”

“Struggling through the training this summer I’m more appreciative than ever of the efforts of Aaron, Ed, Paul and Timothy. Every penny they raise is vital and I thank them.” 

The event, which will help raise vital funds for MapAction, is scheduled to go ahead on 3rd October this year due to COVID-19, but as normal, the 26 mile course will start at Greenwich and finish at Buckingham Palace. 

This year will be a record breaker, as along with 50,000 people doing the race in person, 37,000 are signed up to do a virtual race, meaning that they can take part wherever they are.


Read Ian’s blog about his training and why he’s doing it.

Make marathon history with MapAction!

The 2021 Virgin Money London Marathon is taking place on Sunday 3 October, with a record 50,000 participants running on the streets of the UK’s capital, from Blackheath to The Mall.

On the same day, an additional 50,000 people will have the chance to take part on the course of their choice from 00:00:00 to 23:59:59 BST, wherever they are on the planet.

This remote event will build on the success of the first-ever virtual London Marathon which took place last year in which four fantastic MapAction runners took part. 

Together, these participants will make history by creating the world’s first 100,000-person marathon. Would you like to be one of them?

We have a limited number of charity places this year; four in the London race and 10 in the virtual race – so if you’d like to take part in this unique challenge, while raising much-needed funds for MapAction, please register your interest by 1st May 2021

We would love to find enough runners to participate on every continent, so please do share this opportunity with anyone you think might be interested. 

Join us and thousands of other participants on 3 October who’ll be celebrating everything the London Marathon embodies – fun, fundraising, fancy-dress and amazing community spirit – in aid of MapAction! 

Not the normal London Marathon, but certainly not a dry run

MapAction patron Vanessa Lawrence CB and her running partner and god-daughter Jocelyn Moore (whose partner Steve is a MapAction volunteer and also a London Marathon veteran) ran the London Marathon for us together for the second year running on a very wet day in October. Here’s Vanessa’s account of the experience.

Jocelyn and Vanessa standing on a country path in very wet waterproof clothing, smiling to camera. Vanessa is holding her Marathon runners

The 2020 London Marathon was named by the organisers for the non-elite runners as the ‘my race, my way’ London Marathon. Participants had 24 hours to complete the 26.2 miles (42.2km); you could start when you liked and finish when you liked and do it in any way you wished…so long as an electronic device tracked you, to ensure you completed the distance!

Sunday morning 4th October 2020, Marathon day dawned – but hardly! It was very dark, the rain was slashing down and a cold wind was blowing.
Jocelyn and I had planned the route, plotted it on an Ordnance Survey ‘custom made’ map (a good Christmas Present for those who like maps – £16.99!) and thankfully found a ‘long lost’ map case to keep the map dry.

We set off wearing full wet weather gear and the whole day was dominated by driving rain, a cold wind and lots and lots of mud!

Our route took us through pretty villages which were totally empty, across a windswept airfield, through ancient woodlands, along roads completely under water, over and under the M25 and past very interesting local landmarks. We had an encounter with about 70 bullocks who walked into ‘our field’ as we were about one third across it. They surrounded us but eventually they lost interest…phew!

Close up of Jocelyn and Vanessa smiling to camera wearing damp rain hoods

Thankfully, two thirds of the way along the route, we stopped at a friend’s house. It was so welcome to get out of the driving rain and the biting wind to enjoy some warmth and a welcome cup of tea. We thought she was marvellous as she decided to join us for the next two miles to experience the horrible weather and took a photo of us both at mile 17, with still nearly another 10 miles to go!

Darkness fell early but thankfully we had head torches and hi-vis jackets with us and we arrived back at our start with 1.1km still to do…so we decided to walk around the local roads and thankfully that did the trick. 26.2 miles or 42.2 km completed!

Close up of Jocelyn and Vanessa smiling to camera with London Marathon The 40th Race frame and text reading 'I've just run the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon'

Thank you so much for supporting us. The money thankfully is still streaming in and it is likely our final total will be in excess of £4000.

But please be warned; the London Marathon organisers are not subtle! They already have sent Jocelyn and I places in the ‘real London Marathon’ to take place on Sunday 3rd October 2021 in London when they confidently predict the pandemic will be over. Let’s hope so! But I am confident of one thing (well at the moment anyway!)…London Marathon 2021 probably will be my last Marathon as they really are a long, long way!

Stay safe and thank you again from us both.

Countdown to the London Marathon

It’s just over a week until the 2019 London Marathon. Five fantastic MapAction runners are making their final preparations for the big race, and some of them are feeling quite nervous. We’re looking forward very much to cheering them on at miles 13 and 22 and celebrating with them when they cross the finish line. If you fancy coming to join us, please get in touch with Ian.

We’re extremely grateful to all our runners for taking on this epic challenge, and raising money to enable us to continue to help get aid to where it’s needed in humanitarian emergencies.

You can find out more about why they’re running for MapAction and donate via their fundraising pages: