Nick’s 12 hour Marathon for SMA!

Swapping a coaching day for one of playing consecutively for 12 hours from 6am to 6pm is not something I would typically do, however, in the name of charity, in particular, my sister Anna’s charity, Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), I had no reservations about setting upon this task.

Working long hours and days is part and parcel of being a tennis coach. Many coaches working 7 days a week and clocking up a minimum of 40-50 hours of physical work in a week. Imparting our knowledge onto students and seeing the lightbulb moment when something we say or do, really works with our player is one of many reasons as to why we coach long hours. We love it. However,  actually playing tennis myself for more than a normal working day is a challenge.

A little about Spinal Muscular Atrophy…

SMA is a genetic neuromuscular disease, which means it is inherited and affects nerves responsible for muscle function. Although classified as rare, SMA is the leading genetic cause of death of infants and toddlers, with approximately 95% of the most severely diagnosed cases resulting in death by the age of 18 months. Children with a less severe form of SMA face the prospect of progressive muscle wasting, loss of mobility and motor function.

  • 1 in 40 to 60 people is an SMA carrier, i.e. approximately 1.6 million people in the UK
  • 1 in every 6,000 to 10,000 births is affected by SMA. At any one time, it is thought that there are between 650 and 1,300 children and adults in the UK living with SMA.


As with any endurance sport, preparation is key – fail to prepare and prepare to fail. Throughout this last week, my nutritional intake has taken a slightly different turn of what is become the norm for me over the last few months. I have been testing out what is becoming ever more popular, intermittent fasting, which gives your body 16 hours of no calorie intake followed by a nutritious (refined sugar free) 8 hours of eating and drinking. I have already begun upping my calorie intake to ensure I provide my body with the opportunity of completing this event in the best possible way.

Having completed this 12-hour event before and also the London marathon in previous years, I have a good idea of what my body will feel and how to overcome any obstacles I will encounter. To be truthful, having seen the bookings of people, many of whom I know very well, many of whom I will be getting to know further on the day, filling up the slots to join me so quickly and also the great amount of money everyone has kindly donated into my JustGiving page, I will be enjoying every second of the event raising money for the most worthwhile cause! But we still want to raise as much as we can be this very worthwhile charity, so please give generously via the just giving link below or come down and have a hit with me this Sunday the 30th of September 6am to 6pm!

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