Jamie Carragher, Head of Customer Activation at Diageo Global Travel, tells TRBusiness what inspired him to take on the London Marathon for the Terrence Higgins Trust, his motivations during training, and what will be running through his mind when he crosses the finish line.
Carragher is the first to headline a new, occasional series from TRBusiness titled ‘GTR Heroes’, which shines a light on everyday heroes in global travel retail (GTR) who are going above and beyond for important causes – and the ways in which the industry can help support such efforts.
Diageo Global Travel’s Carragher is running the 2023 TCS London Marathon (which takes place on Sunday 23 April) to raise money for the Terrence Higgins Trust.
You can support Carragher’s fundraising efforts via Just Giving – Diageo is matching every donation made.
TRBusiness took the opportunity to ask Carragher why he’s lacing up his trainers for the cause…
“Choosing to do the marathon came from a place of wanting to challenge myself but ultimately wanting also help others while doing so,” explained Carragher. “I have an interest in inclusion and am often inspired by my colleagues and friends around me who go off to do crazy things that are working to improve the lives of others.
“I chose the Terrence Higgins Trust as they are a charity seeking to prevent the transmission of any new cases of HIV by 2030 in the UK. The charity was founded 40 years ago in memory of Terrence Higgins – one of the first people in the UK to die from HIV AIDS. The charity provides support to individuals (and their families) affected by the disease but has also conducted research which has slowed the spread of the virus whilst removing the stigma it had.
“As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I wanted to support the charity’s fundraising efforts and help profile the incredibly positive work they do. It is a real bonus that Diageo will match my fundraising – one of the many things they do to empower employees like me to be themselves and bring their whole selves to work as at home.”
Dialling up the distance
Considering that, until recently, Carragher hadn’t run further than 8km, taking on a mammoth 42km marathon is no mean feat. Despite an injury temporarily stopping him in his tracks, he is tackling the training with gusto.
“I started training in November but unfortunately, I injured my Achilles heel over Christmas,” said Carragher. “As a result, I had to take about six weeks out to recover. I’ve been playing catch up ever since – not ideal as you need to really build up to long distances.
“As I approach marathon day, I am trying to increase my training to several long runs a week, a smaller recovery run as well as doing some strength conditioning at the gym. This week I am aiming to run two half marathons.”
A steady stream of entertainment is helping to keep him motivated on those long training runs, but it’s the opportunity to make a difference that’s raising his spirits as he dials up the distance.
“Due to my injury, I have done a lot of my training on the treadmill as it is softer to run on, so I have found watching Netflix and listening to podcasts to be a good source of distraction,” he said.
“If I am honest, my biggest motivation is the charity and the fundraising. It makes it much easier to keep pushing through the pain when there is a purpose behind it. I think about the great work that the charity does and all of a sudden it is not about me, it is about them.
“I also think of my friends and family who are supporting, donating and putting up with my marathon moans. Diageo and my Diageo colleagues have also been really supportive – particularly with being flexible about training around my work and contributing to my fundraising.”
In terms of what’s he’s learned so far, which may come in handy for others attempting this year’s marathon, Carragher has the following advice: “I am sure that I will have more strategies to share after the race, however my number one tip, as it stands, would be to invest in some proper running gear – I wish I had done a better job of this at the beginning. My second tip would be to try not compare yourself to others in training. Everyone is different and has a different schedule and approach.
“The final tip I have is to link the challenge to a purpose – you are more likely to achieve your goal if it’s linked to something you feel passionate about. For me, it has been hugely motivating seeing donations come in while also having regular communication with the Terrence Higgins Trust to understand where the money goes.”
Carragher had originally set himself a target to complete the marathon in under four hours but, due to his injury, he is understandably taking the pressure off a bit.
“If I somehow finish in under four hours 30 mins then I would be over the moon,” he said.
Come marathon day, his journey will be a nothing short of a physical and emotional rollercoaster.
“At the start of the race, I expect that I will be feeling hugely nervous and probably itching to start,” he said.
“By the end, I am fully expecting to feel quite emotional – the last two to three miles of the marathon route was actually my daily exercise running route during the peak of the Covid lockdowns.
“I haven’t run that particular segment since ‘lockdown one’ in summer 2020, so when I multiply the nostalgia of that time period with the noise of the crowd and how sore my body will be feeling – I think it will be overwhelming.
“I would imagine that I will feel immensely proud when I get over the line. I will have completed a marathon and done my small bit to raise awareness and funds for the future of the Terrence Higgins Trust. It will be a feeling and memory to always hold onto.”
If you would like to support Carragher’s fundraising efforts, you can do so via Just Giving.
If you are working in the global travel retail industry and would like us to consider sharing the story of your charity initiative, please email [email protected].