Running Paris and L.A.: My Mother's Fight, And Mine

A tale of two marathons and of loss averted

Part 3: Paris 2023 and Los Angeles 2024

The finish line of the Paris 2023 Marathon.

Well... I guess that's a spoiler.

What the picture won't tell you is the brutality of the hour or so before this moment. I have long known the adage about a marathon - that there are two distinct parts to it, a twenty-mile run followed by a six-mile one, with those last six miles somehow as grueling as the first twenty. Let me tell you, in the cracked voice of extreme understatement, that what they say is rather true.

Let me tell you too that the noise from the crowd in the final two miles basically carried me. I was the human equivalent of a crumpled paper bag by that point. Gusting me along was the hollering, the thunderous pounding on the barriers, and the slutty house music thwapping from speakers the size of jet engines. (Dear God: The French ain't never gonna shut up. And that's okay. Your friend, WB).

My best friend and I got it wrong: there is no good reason not to yell yourself raw from the sidelines of a marathon. Strangers, lovers, countrymen, chain-smokers, runners yourselves, or elevator-loyalists... it doesn't matter who you are. Your holler counts. I can tell you first-hand: it really, really helps. So thank you in advance.

Yeah, that's in advance. Because I'm doing it all over again.

Los Angeles Marathon 2024

All set for Los Angeles 2024.

On March 17th, 2024, I'll be among the runners of the LA Marathon. If my mum suddenly appears among the runners ahead of me this time, there's a chance that might be for real: she'll be there. Officially, to watch, but, honestly, if she has other ideas, no barrier yet invented can stop her.

At my mother's suggestion, I'll be raising money for Bowel Cancer UK. In the charity's own words: "We're the UK's leading bowel cancer charity. We're determined to save lives and improve the quality of life of everyone affected by bowel cancer. Our vision is a future where nobody dies of the disease." Read Bowel Cancer UK's full mission statement here.

Join me in the fight against bowel cancer

Bowel cancer can be beaten if detected early. Raising general awareness of symptoms, broadening access to screening programs, improving and proliferating resources and facilities to support patients as they progress through their treatment plans... these are developments that will save lives. They're also developments that cost money.

We all could use a little money right now, I'm sure. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are doodling rockets around in distant starfields, while the rest of us are just hoping the car will still start in the morning. I have no doubt there are other things you could do with that spare ten, fifty, hundred dollars. (Or pounds, or euros.)

Mum and Shakespeare. Who said, "A lender nor a borrower be / Instead giveth to charitee". (Okay, that may not be exactly what he said.)

But here's the thing. I have, at various times in my life as an artist, had very little money. I was once nicknamed Bugsy, because the only snack I could afford back then was carrots. But I have never been poor. I am very sure of that. Because even with one hand around a carrot and the other collect-calling, I have always had my health. And health is the true measure of what we've got in this world, not money.

Supporting others in their struggles (back) toward health is arguably the greatest, because truest, form of gifting we have.

I invite you, then, to support me in raising funds for Bowel Cancer UK as I run the Los Angeles Marathon 2024. Anything at all you can give is truly appreciated by me - and truly pivotal to patients.

To be clear, this is not all-or-nothing sponsorship. If I fall into a pothole at mile 7, or catch diva-itus while passing through Hollywood and refuse to come out of my trailer thereafter, all the money raised still goes to Bowel Cancer UK. So if you think another 26.2 miles is beyond me, crack open that wallet all the same. Only good can come of donating.

Thank you,

Winter Bel (and her mum, Maggie Bullingham)