One of our amazing LOOK Mentors has taken on the challenge to run London Marathon 2024 and fundraise for LOOK.

We will be following Mentor Karlena as she trains over the coming months, and heads towards crossing that finishing line in April.

She will be running with her guide, Adam, and they’ve begun training. Follow Mentor Karlena’s journey here. We’ll be updating this page each week with photos, videos, news and tips from Karena here. She hopes it will inspire other visually impaired young people.

Go, go, go Mentor Karlena! We are all so proud of you. We’ll post the updates with the most recent first, so scroll down if you’d rather start from the first one! Each week Karlena does a ‘Before’ and ‘After’ video update from her run with her Guide Runner. Updates may increase in frequency as we get closer to London Marathon and she dives into the Training Plan.

Week Eight

Today was very different.

I walked whilst observing everybody else running in the background. There is nothing like having a meaningful conversation, and there’s definitely something special about walking whilst doing this. It is only until I got home I realised that tonight was more than walking and talking.

You see tonight I walked in the dark…

Tonight was a memory, enjoying childhood walks in the evenings with my family, part of the day, which would bring us together, sharing how our days have gone, whilst appreciating nature at one of the best moments in the day.

Tonight was a memory when my parents realised I would struggle to see in the dark.

Tonight was a memory that I have been diagnosed as visually impaired.

Tonight was also a memory, of how it felt sacrificing the blissful walks of an evening.

This is an area I forgot to revisit, because it was the pivotal point when my life would change in a way, I never expected…

I have just realised I have broken a barrier.

The barrier, which stopped me from sports, Confidence gone, hope, lost, freedom, stolen, because of a diagnosis…

Well… I choose to say tonight, I have broken a barrier…

I feel excited and encourage that the very charity. I am running for, has been part of this process. I am running the London Marathon for LOOK, As they help break barriers down.

Here is my testimony that I share this evening. I would encourage anybody reading this to share my fundraising page and help raise money. Your support and help breaks down so many barriers. It enables this amazing charity, to pave the way into freedom.

Tonight, I went for a walk in the evening.

Tonight I broke a barrier with the support initiated from LOOK. Every moment was a blissful experience! 

Sponsor Mentor Karlena here.

Week Seven

Week Six

A written blog update from Mentor Karlena this week:

I’ve started to feel a little tired, and I’ve had to re-analyse why.

After reflecting, I realised learning how to use new Assistive Technology, whilst also learning, new routes, university layouts, and starting the actual university course… can surely be a very tiring, an overwhelming experience!

I went on my run yesterday, and completed some hill reps.
Wow, I realise how I am getting faster and fitter!
We did hill reps on a bridge with an incline… not so easy, but a good challenge for sure.

I never realise quite how exhausted I would feel… I mean, who does?

It is another reminder, how living with an impairment can mean you are working so much harder to re-adapt, and put in adjustments.
It’s really difficult in the beginning, and I feel like it’s something that has to be done in order for the future to be that little easier.

I salute any of you readjusting in life, whilst living with an impairment. I really do hope you have the right support in place. If not, reach out for help!

LOOK has helped me understand how to adapt to university, as I have been able to reach out to the volunteers and learn different ways and methods of studying whilst living with sight loss.

As I eat my tasty meal tonight, I am thinking about all of you,
Especially the ones returning to study or starting a new job.
It can be soo tiring, and I can understand it is a great challenge!
And it’s so important to nourish your body on a cellular level.
I love food!
I love cooking!!
And what makes me really happy, is being able to cook for others it creates a sense of community by, bringing people together.

The picture I am sharing is of my meal I have cooked. It has roasted mushrooms, celery, peppers, courgettes, and sweetcorn. The salsa is made from kidney beans, tomato, chilli, and tahini, I made a dip called tzatziki. I made the Greek version, which has cucumber, mint, yoghurt, and garlic, I grated some carrots, and finally the best part… wait for it…
nearly there… grilled halloumi!

Yum. Yum Yum!

I am so grateful to have food in my life, I think of all the people who don’t have food.
Whatever reason that maybe I really do hope that everyone living on this planet is able to gain the right resources to nourish their body.

Week Five

Mentor Karlena is back, and she’s recently started at university, retraining to be a physiotherapist.

Week Four

This week Mentor Karlena and her Guide Runner Adam headed to a track to do a 10k run. Pictured below, from right to left is: Karlena wearing her LOOK t-shirt in navy blue with yellow logo, running next to Adam. They’re joined together with a yellow tether around their wrists. Running near to them is Adam’s wife, Alice, running and clapping to cheer them on.

Here’s Karlena’s weekly vlog, which is a really a great one.

Week Three

Back again with a before and after video. Click on the link below to watch!

Week Two

Karlena shares honestly from before and after her second run. Click on the link below to watch.

Below are three photos from before and after Karlena’s Week Two run with her Guide.

Photo 1 – Her pre-run smoothie. “Keeping healthy and looking after well-being is really important while training. Yesterday I was not very well, so today I’ve decided to make this pre-workout drink with: spinach, avocado, blackberries, almond, milk, peanut butter, fermented pea protein, turmeric, cocoa powder, hemp seeds and chia seeds. It is packed full with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory enzymes, and antioxidants. It’s food for my soul!”

Photo 2 – “Time for a cool down, which is so important for your muscles. Part of the recovery to avoid blood pooling and encourage flexibility. Always good to seek advice! I am a trained instructor and have an exercise mat, dumbbell and rolling ball. I use these for a gentle stretching and Pilates.”

Photo 3 – Ready to head out with her guide, Adam, using a tether. “I wanted to cancel because I’m so tired. It’s taking me so many attempts just to learn where I live… but we’ve got to do right what we’ve got to do!”

Week One

Week One and Karlena was nervous about running after such a long break, and her first time running with a Guide Runner. Here’s her brilliant before and after videos.

Karlena was interviewed on BBC Radio about taking on this challenge. She spoke of the freedom that running with a trained guide gives her. It allows her to run with a smile on her face! We love that.

London Marathon is on 21 April 2024. LOOK has 33 charity places. All money raised by our amazing #TeamLOOK enables our small but mighty charity to support visually impaired children, young people and their families to thrive.

Could you encourage Karlena today and sponsor her? As she says in her Week Two video, just learning a new route to a bus stop in a new place is a challenge, so training to run 26 miles with tens of thousands of other runners, is a huge deal. Karlena is doing this for LOOK, because she knows the difference our small small but mighty charity makes to children, young people and families living with sight loss. Click on the link to go through to her fundraising page for LOOK:

Karlena’s story in her own words

As a visually impaired person myself, I have faced so many challenges. In times when I could not seek help from anywhere else LOOK were there to support me through my journey.

It’s been astonishing, watching such a unique charity, help break barriers for young people and families living with sight loss. It seems as though LOOK strive to help so much, I want to say there is probably no barrier they can’t break down or hurdle they would want to jump in order to provide support.

I have been volunteering with them for a few years now, I can truly say I’ve not seen another charity work so hard, be so determined and truly empathic in what they do. The support and services they offer to young people and families with sight loss is absolutely amazing!

This is why I have chosen to run the marathon, this charity has helped me understand my visual impairment, and provided a platform where I could be heard and supported.

I can proudly say LOOK is a charity close to my heart, and I want to give back all the support and encouragement I can!!

Your hard work and empathy is to be praised, now it’s my turn, to spread the word with you and raise money all the way to the finishing line.

Let’s make people more aware.

Let’s come together and help people living with sight loss break down, barriers!!

Food

Karlena is hungry after a run, so here are a few food updates from her, on her before and after fuelling and nutrition – or in this case, totally delicious sounding homemade and healthy treats.

First up, her pre-run baked porridge which really sounds so good, and perfect for before a run.

Then – hungry after a run, Karlena messaged to say “Just came up with a new creation – petite banana truffles with peanut butter and dark chocolate. Yum yum!”

Finally, a smoothie made celery, spinach, blueberries, fresh ginger and coconut milk.

“Made for its anti-flammatory purposes and to refill my body with some great antioxidants.”