My first marathon

By Robert Pyke, Finance Director, Unilever (running the London Marathon and fundraising for WAGGGS!)

Robert PykeI’ve never run a marathon before. This year, it’s all change. I’m running the 2017 London Marathon to raise money for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). 

When I was younger I used to run, I even ran a half-marathon but this was in the Nineties when I was in my twenties!  Since then I’ve gradually done less running or any sort of physical exercise as I’ve juggled a busy job with three adorable children (and one even more adorable wife).  Two things happened last year that made me think a little more about my health and fitness. 

Firstly, I volunteered to lead some work on wellbeing.  It was a departure from my day to day responsibilities as Finance Director at Unilever, working with brands like Dove.  I’ve always been mindful of things like work life balance and how effective I am in my day to day life, so I looked upon this as a chance to learn. It turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done.  It gave me access to lots of interesting people and it was rewarding to see people pick up all sorts of small nuggets to help them.  It also reminded me of the importance of physical fitness as a foundation to thrive at whatever you are doing. A seed had been planted.

Making strides

The second event concerned my 10-year-old son, who was about to return to school after summer.  He had a cross country event. As an able, athletic boy I thought he would do well.  To help, I suggested we go on a run.  I dug out my trainers and one Saturday morning we headed out… he gallantly stayed with me for the first mile before zooming away as I huffed and puffed, staying as close as I could.  There and then, I resolved to get into better shape. I started going for short runs at the weekend.  Although they were short it felt good and the level of puffing subsided! 

A couple of months’ later serendipity stepped in, WAGGGS had a marathon place available.  I jumped at the opportunity to get fit whilst raising money for an organisation I respect and admire.   I love a challenge, this is certainly that and the fact it scares me is a good sign.  Only later did I discover that I am the only runner raising money for WAGGGS … so I have to do this!

Free Being Me Pakistan WAGGGS
Powerful partnerships

At Unilever, I work closely with the Dove.  Dove has worked with WAGGGS since 2013, supporting the next generation to develop a healthy relationship with the way they look.  This is achieved by building positive body confidence and self-esteem in young people through educational programmes.  As my teenage daughter would testify there are many potential sources of anxiety for young people.  Dove, through their social mission programmes within the Dove Self-Esteem Project (DSEP),  has reached over 23 million people around 139 countries with self-esteem education.  

WAGGGS is the biggest global partner for the (DSEP). Together, they’ve reached over 3.5 million young people in 125 countries, with their co-developed body confidence curriculum Free Being Me.  Recently Dove and WAGGGS signed a new agreement to continue the partnership from 2017 to 2020, continuing to build a movement of girls and build positive body confidence.  Raising money for WAGGGS, will help them fund Free Being Me and other programmes to give young people around the world the skills they need to succeed in life.

My training is going well so far. I’m running four times a week and gradually building up the distance I can run.  It’s still relatively early days but so far so good, more on my training next time! 

If you want to sponsor me please visit:

Share this page