This year, 30 members of BattleBorn Fitness NI are running relay teams in the Belfast Marathon 2023, raising money for XLH UK. We were so impressed by Jennie MclLmail and Amy Bickerstaff’s efforts, that we wanted to learn more about their motivations and how preparations are going. Below is Jennie’s story with some context from Amy, and some comments from JB, their coach.
“In January of 2022 I joined a local fitness group, BattleBorn Fitness NI. Exercising is something that had always come with difficulties for me due to XLH [diagnosed aged 10], but it was quick to see after joining this group that I had the support of all the members behind me.”
Despite her concerns around her running abilities, when the Belfast marathon relay teams were mentioned, Jennie decided to act on her biggest driver ‘to inspire both my XLH boys’ and signed up! She says that she felt able to play her part with the encouragement of everyone around her.
Jennie's inspiration - Arthur and Ned
“This fantastic group of people have been on a journey themselves, learning about XLH through following my son Ned’s participation in a clinical trial in London. Our coach Jonathan Birch [JB] had suggested a fundraiser for a charity of my choice - so the Belfast Marathon seemed a perfect opportunity to raise money & awareness for XLH UK. Once the charity had been announced the teams began to grow & we rapidly went from 10 participants to 30.”
“I have been training three times per week since January & have built up to running 5k, which in itself, is a huge achievement.”
Notes from JB, BattleBorn’s coach – “What a credit this young woman is!”
As coach, JB sees it a privilege to meet and coach a variety of people with different backgrounds, abilities, and confidence levels.
“In Jan 22 Jennie joined the group and from the start embraced whatever challenge I threw at her, (there were many). It was obvious to me from the start that Jennie had some physical obstacles to overcome, her never say die attitude and openness about her XLH condition took me on my own learning curve.”
“Because of this I was only too happy to support BattleBorn's 'Member of the Year 2022' and her family by entering as many teams as possible in the Belfast Marathon relay 23. It is my hope that we not only raise money towards the charity but also awareness.”