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Michelle Cooke, who is now a matron, has been a renal nurse for over 30 years. This year she ran the London Marathon for Kidney Research UK. We caught up with her after the big day…

What made you decide to run the marathon this year?
I’ve always wanted to do the London Marathon, it’s an iconic and aspirational event.

Why did you choose to run for Kidney Research UK? 
I choose Kidney Research UK because of my connection with kidney disease over the last 30 years. I’ve been working within the NHS as a renal nurse. I’ve seen how things have changed dramatically from the 1980s up to the present day and how research has contributed to that change.

What would you say was the biggest change you have seen?
One of the biggest changes is that back in the early days of my career, you very rarely saw anyone over 60, because generally it was protocol that anyone over that age didn’t get dialysis. It is hard to believe nowadays.

What made you decide to specialise in renal?
The main thing that attracted me is the relationship you have with the patients. At one point I was a pre-dialysis nurse and I saw patients when they were first diagnosed, right through their journeys with the disease. I’ve also had the privilege of seeing people at the end of their life and making sure that they had as much dignity in death as they did in life.

You meet a variety of people from all ages, last year we had a patient dialysing that was 100.

What do your patients and colleagues think about you running the marathon?
They have been really supportive. I’m not a natural runner, but the training you have to do is nothing compared to a patient having to come to dialyse three times a week. It’s an amazing commitment these people have to make every day to keep well.

How did you find the training?
You have good weeks and bad weeks, then you have an awful week where you think you can’t run a mile. It is worth it in the end.

And how was your London Marathon experience on the day? 
I loved the day!  It was a great experience, the crowds and the emotion was fantastic.At this minute I am thinking I’m never a marathon again but who knows!It’s been a pleasure raising money for the charity and the support from the staff has been amazing.

What would you say to anyone thinking of doing it next year?
Go for it! The one tip I would give is start you’re fundraising early on, I started my fundraising last year as soon as I got a place.

Feeling inspired?
Fancy following in our runners’ footsteps next year? We’d love to receive your application for a Golden Bond place in the Virgin Marathon 2018 so why not register your details today.

If a marathon’s not your thing we’ve got many more events you can take part in including walks, cycling challenges, overseas treks and parachute jumps. Take a look at our events.

If you'd like to sponsor Michelle, visit her Just Giving page.

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