London Marathon 2024: ‘Samaritans Running Telephone’ Dave Lock set for 25th run

Home » London Marathon 2024: ‘Samaritans Running Telephone’ Dave Lock set for 25th run

It all started with one life-changing phone call.

In truth, Dave Lock had phoned – and then soon hung up – several times before he could bring himself to engage in any conversation.

The 62-year-old was at “rock bottom” when he saw an advert for Samaritans on a bus shelter.

On Sunday, he will run his 25th consecutive London Marathon in fancy dress for the charity, in the large green telephone costume which has become synonymous with his endeavours.

That does not account for his remarkable lockdown-enforced ‘patio-thon’ in 2020, for which he decorated his patio with pictures of the capital’s iconic landmarks and ran 2,175 laps to cover the 26.2 miles.

Chosen as captain of the 500-strong team of runners raising money for Samaritans, the London Marathon charity of the year, Lock says it will be a “dream come true” to this time complete the event with his daughter, Isabella, as they run in memory of his younger brother Steven, who took his own life last year.

“Steven always used to come and watch the London Marathon and he always used to stand near mile 24,” says Lock, known as ‘Samaritans Running Telephone’.

“It was great to just run up in the telephone costume and high-five him. Then he would name a pub and we would meet after the race.

“Isabella and I know that Steven will be there. We will exchange a high-five with Steven at mile 24.

“Steven’s suicide has made me feel even more committed to doing whatever I can for Samaritans, whether that’s running 26 miles or promoting mental health. I have already made a commitment to myself that this London Marathon will not be my last.”

Lock first contacted the charity after going through a divorce which left him with a feeling of “self-loathing”, that caused him to close himself off from family and friends.

Seeking help at his lowest point, the call paved the way for Lock’s achievements since. He has completed more than 30 marathons, run almost 900 miles and raised nearly £50,000 for the charity.

He became a listening volunteer for the charity, which answers a call every 10 seconds, before taking on his first London Marathon in 1999 dressed as children’s TV character ‘Big Ears’ – in recognition of the service Samaritans provides.

Since then he has gone on to run the distance as a birthday cake, a mobile phone, a computer, and the iconic green telephone which he will once again wear this weekend.

“I didn’t like myself anymore. I got to a point where I couldn’t really see any point in carrying on and I seriously considered taking my own life,” Lock says.

“Now I realise my being here, being open, caring, compassionate, kind, is actually really important.”

“When I called Samaritans, I was very scared. The voice at the other end was so kind, welcoming and warm and I immediately felt almost as though someone had put their arms around me as if to say ‘it’s OK, you’re in a safe place’.

“Back in 1999, I told myself I would run 25 consecutive London Marathons to support Samaritans. I’m so delighted that I’m nearly there.”

After losing their mother to cancer, Lock’s brother Steven went on to pursue a career in acting and moved to Los Angeles.

Unfortunately, the decision did not work out and his mental health deteriorated.

Lock flew out to visit his brother and offer support, but it would be the last time he would see him.

“Isabella has seen me running the London Marathon and she said she would love to run with me one day,” says Lock.

“Because of what happened last year with Steven, she came to me and said: ‘It’s time – I want to run the London Marathon with you in memory of Steven’.

“I will keep running for Samaritans as long as I’m physically able to. I feel so, so passionate that I don’t want anyone to die by suicide and I’ll do anything I can to stop that.”

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