Many u-blox employees volunteer their time to charitable organizations, and we like to encourage and reward this through our uGive program. u-blox pays the charitable organization 20 CHF for each hour a u-blox employee volunteers up to a maximum of 40 hours or 800 CHF. uGive is a little extra way of giving back to the communities we work in and the causes close to our employees’ hearts.
We expanded our uGive program in 2022 to give our employees more flexibility for community engagement. uGive funding was opened to sponsor employees who wish to participate in a worthwhile cause, like Martin Leach, u-blox Senior Director, Head of Product Center Cellular, and uGive volunteer. Martin ran the London Marathon to raise money for The Asthma and Lung charity in the UK. The charity has invested over £100 million in research funding for lung conditions, including asthma, COPD, bronchiectasis, mesothelioma, interstitial lung disease, and Covid-19.
From couch potato to marathon runner
When he joined u-blox over eight years ago, Martin was a self-proclaimed couch potato. Having been active in sports in school, he stopped exercising when he went to university.
By his mid-forties, he realized he needed to exercise for health reasons. So Martin joined a running group at u-blox in Cambridge, where he is based, and began running after work and on the weekends. Very soon, he had the running bug, and his health improved. Within a month or so, he could run a 5 km and began Park Running, but the thought of running a 10 km was still a dream.
Martin started to get up to 10 km but still thought he would never be able to enter a half marathon. Then one year later, he ran a half marathon and thought he could never turn around and do that again. However, in the back of his mind, there was a persistent question: wouldn’t that be something if I could run a marathon?
Even with over 40,000 runners, the London Marathon - the largest annual fundraising event on the planet, with runners having raised over £1 billion for good causes since the race began in 1981 - is notoriously difficult to get in. However, Martin had heard that if you support a charity, your application had a better chance of being accepted.
Much of Martin’s inspiration came from his colleague, Andrew Evans, who works at u-blox in Cambourne and was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer a few years ago. In his application Martin explained how Andrew has had rounds and rounds of chemotherapy and is still running while battling lung cancer.
“Andrew is an unbelievable runner! He is so fast he puts me to shame with the speed he can run,” says Martin with a twinkle in his eyes. “This guy was so fit and healthy, didn’t smoke and exercised, and then suddenly gets diagnosed with lung cancer."
Martin also had asthma as a child, so he decided to support the Asthma and Lung Society charity in the UK if he were accepted to run the London Marathon to help them fund their lung research. When his acceptance letter arrived, it was just 16 weeks before the London Marathon and the minimum training time required to prepare. Martin finished in 4 hours and 13 minutes – an incredible time.
“On the day I took off like a rocket, and I was absolutely flying, you get dragged along by the crowd, everyone is there, the adrenaline is flowing. I felt so good when I got halfway, and Tower Bridge was amazing!” explained Martin.
2022 London Marathon Highlights:
- First ever marathon run
- Fourth highest charity fundraiser for the 2022 London Marathon
- Raised over £3,700 for The Asthma and Lung Charity
- Over £2,000 from u-blox and its employees
- Completed in 4 hours 13 minutes
- 16-week training program
- Ran 750km and had four weeks off for an injury
- Trained all over the world: Cambridge, UK; Sgonico, Italy; Thalwil, Switzerland; Washington, DC, USA; New York City, USA; and Barbados
- Trained with over 15 different people (the majority from u-blox), e.g., Neil White (who also ran the marathon in 3 hours and 05 minutes!), Andrew Evans, Damian, Stephane, Anne, Graham, Giri, Chris, Drazen, and Venki