Lisa Ruggles, part of the family-run Hot Tub Studio team, has recently had her name added to a distinguished wall of fame after completing the last of six gruelling marathons held around the world. The 44-year-old mother of three, step-mother of two and Nanna to three babies, has just returned home from Tokyo where she completed the sixth in a series of marathons that started with New York and included Chicago, Berlin, London and Boston.
Lisa took up running when she heard about a five-year-old boy called Skye who loved swimming and was desperate to get into water back in 2014. Skye had a Grade IV metastatic medulloblastoma brain tumour that left him extremely vulnerable to illness, so it wasn’t safe for him to bathe in public pools. Unfortunately, the treatment protocol Skye was given, destroyed the white matter of his brain.
It left him paralysed and facing end-of-life care. This was where the Hot Tub Studio group of three showrooms in Bicester, Oxfordshire, Meriden in the Midlands and Gloucester, could help. With the assistance of Jacuzzi UK, a convoluted delivery over two neighbouring gardens, and with huge on-site support, a J-235 was delivered. Skye used the hot tub regularly, even on the day before he died in August 2014, when his parents reported he was the most relaxed and happy he had been in a long time.
The courageous youngster wanted to help other children and decided to take on the challenge of making the world’s longest loom band – Loom to the Moon while his family pledged to raise awareness through Blue Skye Thinking. “As well as looming to help Skye reach the moon and help other children, I felt I had to do something to raise money and awareness for Blue Skye Thinking,” says Lisa.
“What could I do that I really hated? Running!” Lisa says she used to wonder why people would run if they had other perfectly good means of getting from A to B. “Don’t get me wrong, I had tried to run in the past, but had given up pretty quickly often getting as far as the Chinese restaurant first,” she chuckles. Lisa set herself a challenge to run 500km in 2015 for Blue Skye Thinking.
She recalls: “I cannot lie – I hated every step of couch to 5k. “I used to come back from a run crying and wondering how I was going to reach my target for Skye.” Perseverance paid off and Lisa signed up for a 10k race and then the Oxford Half marathon which was a big turning point for her.
Lisa added 261 Fearless, a charity in honour of Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to register and run the Boston marathon in 1967, “261 Fearless aims to provide opportunities for every woman, no matter their experience, background, religion or fitness level, to discover how running and education can empower their lives,” Lisa explains. “I am lucky enough to run a club in Bicester and have seen women transform in front of my eyes.”
Lisa was presented with four medals for completing Tokyo marathon 2023; the finishers medal, 2020 finishers medal, her WMM 6-star medal and a Guinness World Record medal. “You see, I wasn’t the only one waiting during COVID to run Tokyo as part of the series,” Lisa explains on the Guinness World Record. “3,033 other people needed it to complete their journey, the most ever finishers at one time, the previous record was just over 700.
“It has been long, stressful journey, full of uncertainty right up to the point of getting to the starting corral, but the moment I was there, I knew I would finish my World Marathon Major journey for Skye,” Lisa continues. Over 6,000 miles run, I’ve lost count of the number of pairs of trainers, blood, sweat and tears I have shed, but I’ve done it!
I am one of only 10,000 people around the world to complete the Abbot World Marathon Majors and enter the wall of fame. I am not an athlete. I was put off sport at school and told I would never achieve anything in my life. Yet here I am. Knowing that I can achieve anything I set my mind to if I work hard enough to achieve it. In the words of Skye “Make the most of what you’ve got”.