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Haile Gebrselassie urges runners to 'Run for it'!

Published on 18 March 2013 12:30 AM

One of the world's greatest distance runners and Olympic Gold medallist, Haile Gebrselassie, is backing charities Age UK and YouthNet to encourage runners in April's Virgin London Marathon to raise funds and awareness to tackle loneliness and isolation across the generations.


The legendary sportsman has joined forces with the official charities of the 2013 Virgin London Marathon to urge runners who have a place in the race but are yet to support a charity to get behind Age UK and YouthNet.

Age UK, the leading charity for older people and YouthNet, the pioneering online young people's charity, are aiming to raise £1 million for a new service which will see young volunteers help isolated older people to get online. The charities want as many people as possible to raise awareness by running in Age UK and YouthNet t-shirts on the day.
Haile Gebrselassie said: 'The Virgin London Marathon is the largest annual charity fundraising event in the world and is a unique opportunity to put worthy causes on the centre stage. It's an important day for runners in many ways - emotionally as well as physically. While you're putting your running skills to the test, it's also incredibly fun filled and is a huge achievement combined with running for loved ones and raising money for charities.

'I'm now urging anyone who secured a place in the event to sign up and raise awareness and funds for Age UK and YouthNet. Older people play an important role in society: my father is now in his 80s and has been crucial to my success, passing on wisdom and experience. I strongly believe in communities coming together to provide support, and therefore reaching many more people as a result, which is why the link with younger generations in this project is so important.'

Watch an interview with Haile talking about his London Marathon experiences below:

Tackling isolation amongst older people

Age UK and YouthNet are setting up a digital service which aims to tackle isolation amongst older people by teaching them how to use the internet, and stay in touch with friends and family via email and chatting online. In addition to these social benefits, being online also gives older people opportunities to save money and find out about new hobbies.

Younger people will benefit from the scheme through boosts to their self-confidence and learning new skills. Once trained, these young people will share their digital experience with older people in their local communities.
Paul Farthing, Director of Fundraising at Age UK, said: 'It's brilliant to have support from running legend Haile who is such an inspiration to so many. He is raising awareness amongst Virgin London Marathon runners of the difference they can make to our vital work - whether it's wearing our t-shirt on the day or helping us by raising funds.

'Together we'll be able to show just how important it is to tackle loneliness and isolation in our society. I urge any runners who are looking for their personal marathon challenge to make as big a difference as possible to join our marathon team.'
Emma Thomas, CEO of YouthNet, said: 'It's an honour that Haile is supporting Age UK and YouthNet‘s "Team Run for It" and we hope his passion for connecting younger and older people, driven by his own experiences, inspires anyone looking to run for a charity last minute, to join our team.

'It's vital that we generate maximum awareness of our project to tackle isolation across generations and that we give young people the chance to share their passion and understanding of the digital world with older people, to help improve lives.'

Do you already have your own Marathon place? Then join our team!

As official charities for the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, Age UK and YouthNet are looking for people with their own place in the race to also join the team. For more information and to find out how you can join ‘Team Run for It' (Age UK and YouthNet's marathon team) and take part in the Virgin London Marathon 2013, visit link in new window, call 0800 169 87 87, or email

Support from Age UK and YouthNet

Age UK Advice is the charity's national free-phone service where you can get in touch for information and support on a range of issues. Lines are open from 8am to 7pm, 7 days a week, you can also find out how to contact your local Age UK: call 0800 169 65 65.

People aged 16-25 who need support around any issue can get anonymous, expert advice online through YouthNet's guide to life, www.thesite.orgopens link in new window.

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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