Marathon man - News - The Lily Foundation
The Lily Foundation logo featuring a butterfly, hearts and an 'x' for a kiss

Fighting mito,
finding hope.

Marathon man

Personal stories

23 February 2018

We catch up with Dave Merritt as he prepares to run his 11th London Marathon for The Lily Foundation, the charity set up in his daughter's name.

Two men in Lily Foundation white t-shirts run passed the camera with their arms triumphantly in the air

Let's get behind Lily's dad Dave Merritt as he prepares to run his 11th London Marathon for The Lily Foundation!

When Dave Merritt lost his 8-month-old daughter Lily to mitochondrial disease in 2007, he decided to run the London Marathon to raise awareness about her condition. He's run it every year since, and is now preparing for his 11th race in aid of The Lily Foundation.

While Dave's partner Liz Curtis is the founder and media face of the charity set up in their daughter's name, Dave has been there since day one, working tirelessly in the background. The London Marathon is the one day of the year when we have a chance to show Dave how much his efforts are appreciated, and there's no better way than by donating to his JustGiving page.

By donating even a small amount you'll be helping Dave meet his target, and helping to support families affected by mitochondrial disease.

In the run-up to the big race, we asked Dave how it feels to be running for Lily one more time:

Dave, how does it feel to be preparing for your 11th London Marathon?

I’m excited and nervous! To be honest I thought I might stop at ten, but then I thought, OK, just one more time. I think maybe I'm a bit addicted to it. I enjoy it so much and it's a great thing to do for Lily. The day itself is incredible, and there's always the chance of getting on TV, getting a bit of publicity for The Lily Foundation and raising awareness about mitochondrial disease.

Does the event feel different each time you run it?

Yes, it feels harder! I'm still enjoying it as much as ever, but every time I do it I get a few more aches and pains as the years take their toll.

What’s your training regime?

I try to build up my long runs weekly in the run-up to the race, but it's hard to fit in as many miles as I'd like because I'm busy in my job as an electrician. I have a programme that I try to follow and just build up the miles slowly. I really enjoy the feeling of running, it gives me a chance to think about stuff and clear my head.

What’s your advice for anyone running their first London Marathon?

The big thing to remember is not to go off too quickly. At the start everyone is excited and many people make the mistake of setting off too fast, then pay for it later in the race. Make sure to load up on carbs the night before. And don’t run the London Marathon listening to music on your headphones! One of the best things about the day is the crowd, the cheering, the conversations and the support you get. So even if you train with music, I recommend leaving it at home on the day.

How much money are you hoping to raise for The Lily Foundation?

Between the London Marathon and Ride 100, which I'm also doing this year, I hope to raise around £3000. If I can raise more that would be amazing. All the money goes towards helping families affected by mitochondrial disease and funding research to find a cure.

What keeps you going when the race gets tough?

The memory of my daughter Lily, and also thinking of all the other families I've met who have lost children and loved ones to mitochondrial disease. It's usually around the 19 to 21-mile point of the race where I really hit a wall and start to suffer. Then I remind myself what I'm running for, and that gives me the motivation to keep going.

After 11 years is the event still an emotional day for you?

Yes, definitely. And I'm not the only one. So many people who run the London Marathon are doing it for a personal cause, someone they've lost or a charity close to their heart, so you're surrounded by all these incredibly moving stories. Just reading the messages on people's shirts helps to spur you along, and the crowd adds to the feeling.

Are we going to see you there again in 2019?

There's still a lot of work to be done to beat mito, so never say never!

With your help

So little is known about mitochondrial disease.

With your help, The Lily Foundation can keep funding research that will one day find a cure.

Please donate what you can to help us keep fighting mitochondrial disease and finding hope for all those affected by this incurable condition.