At the time of writing, we’re just a few days away from this year’s running of the London Marathon. In amongst the runners this year will be a young man taking on the 26.2 mile challenge from a different perspective. His name is Robbie, and Robbie is autistic. The severity of his autism means that his day to day life is not without challenge, he requires 1 to 1 support to engage in everyday activity. A simple change in stimuli or a slight change in routine can lead to Robbie lashing out at those closest to him. He may become very angry and upset with a situation and his family and friends are vital in helping him to overcome these episodes and in helping Robbie to move forward from this.
For the past couple of years Robbie has attended Saracens Sport Foundation’s Autism sports club (Sarries Skills Club) where he has been able to find and pursue a new hobby in running. Robbie’s passion for running has had a hugely positive impact on his life and it has allowed him not only to make new friends and develop within himself, but it has also given him a medium with which to help control his outbreaks.
Whilst at Sarries Skills Club Robbie has become the running team captain and with the help and support of the staff at Saracens Sport Foundation, Robbie was able to train for, and along with his father David, complete the Silverstone half marathon in an incredible time of 1:47 – a time which is hugely impressive for anyone, let alone someone who has autism to contend with also.
So on Sunday, Robbie, David and 2 members of Saracens Sport Foundation staff, Harry and Owain will be running the iconic LONDON MARATHON. The team will support Robbie around the gruelling 26 miles as he and they, take on this great personal challenge, raising awareness of autism and the positives that can be achieved with the right support.
In my capacity of volunteer photographer for the Saracens Sport Foundation, I’ve had the pleasure of filming Robbie during his training. And as an ex-marathon runner myself, I know exactly what lies ahead for Robbie and his team, but it is impossible not to be totally in awe of the way Robbie has developed as a distance runner. His natural, economical and relaxed style of running will serve him well, and I suspect that his supporting team will find the day a lot tougher than Robbie will. Every year there are numerous inspiring stories associated with the London Marathon, and Robbie’s story is very special. My marathon days are history, but having had the privilege of following and filming Robbie’s preparations, I’ll be with him every step of the way.