‘My mother carried me through the race’

Brian Johnson at the 2015 Edinburgh Marathon
Brian Johnson at the 2015 Edinburgh Marathon

A cancer charity fundraiser has described the emotional rollercoaster of running the Edinburgh Marathon just days after his mother’s death.

Completing his first marathon in under five hours last Sunday, Rosewell man Brian Thomson (59) has raised almost £1,100 for Marie Curie.

Val was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2013. Doctors had given her between eight and ten months to live but tragically she died at Midlothian Community Hospital just six days ahead of her son’s effort.

Hours before her death he told the Advertiser: “She is so brave and has taken this in her stride but I wanted to do something to show my support for her and to raise cash for this wonderful charity who have helped her so much.”

A surveying director for East Lothian-based firm John Smith Builders, he decided to run his debut marathon despite only having started training in January.

He said: “I didn’t expect it [the marathon] to be so comfortable but the last five miles were hard. I had been training three times a week, and so I was fine for the first 20-and-a-half miles. I’d also been careful about what I’d been eating and managed to lose a stone in weight.

“Crossing the finish line was a high point but to be honest I think my mother carried me through the race - I could have broken my leg half way through and I would still have finished.

“I had earphones in and there were times when I got choked up. I carried a picture of my mother with me and there were few moments when I had to keep the tears away.

“But the atmosphere definitely helped - everyone supports each other and if someone is struggling you’ll hear people shouting ‘come on - you can do it’.”

Val was a staunch member of St John’s & Kings Park Church. She loved painting and raised nearly £5000 by selling over 160 artworks over the years.

She was brought up in the cottages which used to be beside the weir at Ironmills Park, She was married to Jim Thomson who was part of Thomson the plumbers in Buccleugh Street - next door to the cinema that is now the snooker centre. He then took on the roll of technician at Dalkeith High for 15 years.

The couple originally stayed at 16 Esk Place but moved to Parkside Place in 1972 where Val lived for the rest of her life.

Brian took on Sunday’s challenge for another two charities - Breast Cancer Care (https://www.justgiving.com/Brian-Thomson3/) for helping his sister in law and the Edinburgh Cat and Dog Home where he acquired Jake, cross-breed that brought joy to his family and gave his old Labrador a new lease of life after a hip operation.

He said: “My sister-in-law Marion has been bravely fighting breast cancer for the past few years and I wanted to do something to show my support in her battle.”