Congratulations to our London Marathon team

On 28 April 2019, seven Bristol alumni, staff and students ran the London Marathon in support of Healthy Minds, a physical activity programme at the University which taps into the benefits of exercise to support students affected by mental ill health. 

Thank you to Chloe, Chris, Grace, Jack, Marissa, Sam and Verity, who raised a fantastic total of £15,276.31. We are delighted to congratulate them on their success, and share their thoughts about the experiences they had running for Bristol.


Chloe Parsons

“I couldn’t have been more proud to represent the University at such a fantastic event. It was unforgettable.

The moment I found out that I had received a Golden Bond place I was overjoyed and overwhelmed and filled with happiness. I have always wanted to run a marathon, but not just any marathon; for many years my eyes have been set on London. The London Marathon was absolutely incredible. It was such a special and momentous experience and I will never forget it.

Before I ran the marathon, I said that it would be the first and the last purely based on the commitment to the training plan alongside other commitments. Not even a week after running it, I have not only entered the ballot for London next year, I have also entered the Manchester Marathon in 2020.

The crowds and support in London on the day of the marathon were on a whole new level. The experience was so different to any race I had ever done before, and I would happily run the London Marathon each and every single year if I could. I managed to finish the London Marathon in a time of exactly 4 hours! Just 1 second off my target, but that’s the price that has to be paid for a perfectly paced and perfectly timed marathon – so I’ve been told! I’ll get it next time!”


Christiaan J. Knaup

“The marathon gave me a goal, an objective, something to strive for outside of a professional setting. It gave me an active lifestyle and embodied everything that Healthy Minds stands for, for myself. One week after the London Marathon, I woke up and felt strange for not having to go out and complete my Sunday long run – something that I had been doing for the past 5 months. I realised that the training has enforced a habit, which at its worst forces me not to look at a screen for a couple of hours and at best gives me a huge endorphin rush when I break a personal best. I have now signed up for the London Triathlon, Olympic distance, at the end of July. This should theoretically be easier than the Marathon, but is another venture to seek out.

It is quantifiable how much running the marathon has helped me with dealing with my grief, but I recognise that I am now in a better mental position than I was in before I started training, and that exact opportunity is what I want to thank Bristol for.”


Grace Kendrick

“It was an incredible experience, and I was overwhelmed by the support of the crowds! I managed to see Jack and Chris also running for Bristol at the start line, but ran for most the way with another alumni student who I’d been at University with. I was honoured to be running for such an important cause.”



Marissa Guiang

“The whole London Marathon experience is one that I’ll never forget. For every mile of the race (and every mile during training), it felt so meaningful to do it for a cause that was much greater than just my own personal athletic goals. The work I put into training was fuelled by my motivation to give back to the University of Bristol’s Healthy Minds Programme – an initiative that I care deeply about and resonates with me. The marathon race itself was like a victory lap around the great city of London, to celebrate months of training and generous funding from all my supporters.”



Sam Collier

“It was an incredible day, the crowds were fantastic and the atmosphere like nothing I’ve experienced. I set myself three goals for the day: 1. Finish. 2. Try to do this in under 4 hours. 3. Try to do this without walking.

Everything was going well and I was exceeding expectations up to mile 19 in Canary Wharf, but nothing prepares you for the physical and mental anguish of hitting ‘the wall’. I’d experienced glimpses of what I thought was the wall in the training. Forcing your body to keep moving when every signal it’s giving you says it’s a terrible idea is really tough.

When I stepped over the finish line I felt an enormous sense of pride in what I’d accomplished, not just over the past 3 hours and 50 minutes, but over the whole 6 month period of training. I honestly can’t think of a more appropriate way to raise money for the University’s Healthy Minds Programme than by taking on the mental and physical battle of the marathon, and would encourage anyone, particularly those who struggle with their mental health, to take on the challenge in the future.”


Feeling inspired? The University of Bristol has five places in the 2020 Virgin Money London Marathon, and applications for the places will open in Autumn this year. For more information, please contact

Our 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon Team

Seven Bristol alumni, staff and students are running the 2019 London Marathon in support of Healthy Minds, a physical activity programme at the University which taps into the benefits of exercise to support students affected by mental ill health. 

Congratulations and thank you to our 2019 London Marathon team! We wish them all good luck with their training and hope that they have a fantastic day on Sunday 28 April 2019.

Christiaan J. Knaup 

‘Your student days are the best years of your life. Certainly now that I’m working, I realise just how much freedom I had to explore, think and question everything around me. I spend a year abroad in Singapore, went to the European Championships with the debating society and watched multiple elections in the Student Union. More importantly, I met my best friends.

On the other side, my student days mark a time when I lost both my parents to cancer and a stroke. While it has been tough, I have been fortunate enough to draw on my friends and family for support and this is an opportunity that is not granted to everyone. More importantly, my grief made me aware of the difficulties in mental health. How can one just snap out of it? How can all the things you do make you feel better? Eating healthy and exercising are things that are incredibly hard to do.

Fortunately, through the University of Bristol, I have secured a spot in the 2019 London Marathon. This marathon represents more than just a run to me. Running 42.195km is a real challenge and an opportunity to give back to the community through fundraising. The university has been incredibly flexible and supportive of students who are suffering from mental health issues through things such as Healthy Minds initiative. It aims to support students who are undergoing mental turmoil, no matter what the reason. It promotes and supports mental-wellbeing via encouraging exercise and mentoring. Exercise has certainly helped me. To me it is not just about the dopamines that are released, but also the bonds that are forged between teammates.’

Chloe Parsons 

I graduated from the University of Bristol with my accounting and finance degree in 2014.  Since then, I have both worked and studied as an accountant, recently becoming a Chartered Accountant at a fantastic accountancy firm in the city.

I have lived, studied and worked in Bristol my entire life. As I look out of my office, The Wills Memorial Building is in site and reminds me of my graduation.

Standing on the start line of the London Marathon as a proud ambassador and alumni of the University of Bristol raising money for Healthy Minds will mean everything to me. I have never run a marathon before and I cannot wait to take on the challenge! 

The training starts here! If any small donations can be made to support me in my fundraising it would be extremely appreciated and go a long way in helping me reach my target!’

Jack Bicknell 

‘I’m Jack Bicknell, I studied Physics and graduated back in 2013. Since then I’ve been a science teacher with Teach First and now work at PwC Consulting. I’ve wanted to do the London Marathon for a while now so when I saw there was an opportunity to run for UoB Healthy Minds I jumped straight in! When I was at uni I used the Student Councelling Services and they really helped me get over some things I was dealing with. Exercise was, and still is, a massive tool I used back then to get out of a rut and it’s still the first thing I think of when I’m having a bad day. Bristol’s Healthy Minds is a fantastic cause I really hope that our fund-raising helps some students get back on track.’



Verity Saunders 

‘I started working at the university in April this year as Head of Projects in IT Services. I play netball and am a keen runner taking part in a number of 10k and half marathons.  I live in Bristol with my husband Rich and have 3 children Tom, Scarlett and Amber. The benefits of sport have played a huge role in my life when I was at university and especially in the early days of motherhood providing me with the tools, mindset and headspace to deal with everyday challenges. I have never ran a marathon before and this will be the biggest personal challenge I have ever undertaken.’



Marissa Guiang 

‘My name is Marissa and I was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. I was a visiting student at Bristol in 2014, from Cornell University. At Bristol, I took classes in Politics, Sociology, and International Film. I graduated from Cornell in 2015 and moved to New York City to work at BlackRock.

The London Marathon will be my second marathon, after completing the New York City Marathon this past November. I am running to raise money for Bristol’s Healthy Minds program to help the university with its efforts to provide more mental health resources to its students. When I was a visiting student, the university provided me with support that made an otherwise difficult study abroad experience much more pleasant and memorable. I want to help sustain and expand the Healthy Minds program so that all students can get the support they need to succeed and enjoy their time at Bristol.’

Sam Collier 

Sam is studying for a PhD in Sustainable Futures at the University of Bristol, having previously completed an MRes at the university. His motivation for running the London Marathon stems from his own experience with mental health over the past year. He struggled with anxiety and depression during the first year of his PhD, but has found running to be an effective way to manage this. It has become his go-to strategy; a way of channelling the suppressed energy of his anxiety into something worthwhile and positive. By fundraising for Healthy Minds, he hopes to broaden awareness of the programme and what it can offer to students, and to encourage others to try exercise for its psychological benefits.

Grace Kendrick 

Grace is currently studying Law at the University of Bristol.

To support the fundraising efforts of the team as a whole, please visit their JustGiving page.