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9 May 2024   |   Blog   |   


5 stars and counting, Helen Carroll ran the 2024 Tokyo Marathon with Sports Tours International and gained an impressive time! Helen’s permanent hip injury and autoimmune disease has not stopped her from running ten marathons and completing five Abbott World Marathon Majors, despite being told by doctors otherwise. Her story is testament to the idea that anyone can run 26.2 miles. 

In 2014 Helen underwent a hip arthroscopy, the surgery was so intense that she lost the ability to walk and had to re-learn how to move again. Fast forward to today and Helen has successfully conquered the Tokyo Marathon with just the Chicago Marathon left to go. Helen joined Sports Tours because she knew this race was going to be a little different. “I was very nervous that I wouldn’t get to the start zone at the right time and how will I work out the cutoff times? Being with Sports Tours made the world of difference, especially with their guided trips to the expo and start line, going with them was crucial for me”.

Arriving four days before the race helped customers get over their jetlag and settle into their hotel. “When I checked into the hotel, I discovered that it was the BEST location, right next to the start even the elites were staying there which made for great photo opportunities. Sports Tours even arranged a race brief which was fab – there are ALOT of rules for the Tokyo marathon that don’t occur in the other races, so it was excellent to get clarity from the reps. I ended up writing the cutoff times on my arm for race day which helped massively.”

Onto the big event…race day! The nerves certainly kicked in for Helen, but despite the permanent hip injury, and the slight aches and pains, Helen knew she could do it. “The start was fun, with lots of confetti flowing down for each wave…and suddenly, we were off! The course has a few out and backs which take a bit of getting used to, but it does mean you get to see the elite’s running past, which was truly awesome.” Halfway the Sports Tours team had set up their two cheer zones, ready to give their running a push to keep going. Helen described Sports Tours as a ‘big family’. Helen was aiming for the 4h 30 mark…the wonderful sunny day combined with a flat course allowed her to cross the finish line at 4h 17!

A few weeks later Helen was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome. “I have a long road ahead of me, praying I can get to the start of the Chicago marathon with Sports Tours in October for my sixth star, when I do this will be huge for me as I have been told this is a long term condition for me now!”  Helen described running a marathon as a mental battle, explaining that anyone can do it, taking it slow, getting your legs used to it and going to physio to remain injury free is key.

You could join Helen on the start line at the Chicago Marathon this October. Find out more about our event packages including guaranteed entry here.


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