My stammering marathon

The article's author, Michael Letheren, running outside in a STAMMA vest

19th May 2021

Michael Letheren tells us how getting involved with a running event organisation helped with his confidence. Currently preparing for a marathon in June, find out how training's going, as well as how you can support or cheer Michael on.

I have stammered for as long as I can recall. After a couple of bouts of NHS speech therapy in my teens I felt like I was making steady progress, but this ultimately fell through due to my personal lack of engagement. I continue to use some of the techniques I learnt but have adapted them to create my own approach. This process of trial and error has been possible due to the support of family, friends, teachers and sports coaches.

I have always been interested in sport. I've tried my hand at football, rugby, golf, Olympic weightlifting, track and field, and judo. Ultimately though, I have always gone back to distance running. Particularly trail running. This link was formed thanks to an organisation called Lakeland Trails, which puts on race events in scenic settings across the UK. I took part in their children's fun trail races, and then I started to volunteer on race registration in 2009. I was 12 at the time. For me, this was a confidence boost that I didn't know I needed at the time, and I am certainly glad for having done it. I maintain that I wouldn't be as confident today had I not embraced the opportunity to speak to, albeit briefly, almost 500 people in a single day. 

I maintain that I wouldn't be as confident today had I not embraced the opportunity to speak to, albeit briefly, almost 500 people in a single day. 

I am still involved in the Lakeland Trails, having taken on a range of roles from race registration through to site support and course marshalling. I'm still not sure which is more difficult, talking on the phone or over a radio!

Running for STAMMA

I have been engaging more with STAMMA and the stammering community over the past two years. I started attending the Manchester Stammering Support Group, I volunteered at the first STUC conference (the Stammerers Through University Consultancy, whose next conference is on June 18th) and attended the first ever Northern Stammerhouse conference in 2019. I also ran the Manchester 10km that year to raise money for STAMMA. Through these events and experiences, I met a network of amazing people and I have learnt a lot about others' experiences of stammering and how they manage it in their own unique way. 

Through these events and experiences, I met a network of amazing people and I have learnt a lot about others' experiences of stammering and how they manage it in their own unique way. 

After International Stammering Awareness Day last year, I felt like I wanted to give more back and try to find my own way to get STAMMA's message out there into the mainstream to dismiss the stigmas around stammering. That is why, this June, I will be taking part in my first ever marathon. Firstly, I had to choose which marathon to run. The one that came straight to mind was one being organised by Lakeland Trails, who have helped me gain so much confidence over the years. 

You can support Michael

So, on the 6th June I will be taking on 'The Most Scenic Marathon in Britain', to raise money for STAMMA. It's being organised by Lakeland Trails and takes place in Coniston, the Lake District.

I understand that for some people money may be tight, but any donations, no matter how small, are greatly appreciated. You can donate on my Justgiving page.

Training was going very well at the start of this year. I was building myself up slowly and getting around the 20-mile mark on some of my longer runs. Since work has restarted though, I have been finding it more difficult to find time to train but I am still hopeful of making it round the course, even if it does turn into a walk/run rather than the other way around like it was going to be!

Would you like to join the cheering team to support Michael during his marathon? If you're in the Lake District area and are free on 6th June, email george.somers@stamma.org. Additionally, if you would like to run, or take part in any other challenge event for STAMMA, drop us an email, we'd love to hear from you.