Supporter Event: ‘Running the Dam’


On 16 October 2016, Yi Fen and her sister Zhen completed the Amsterdam Marathon in memory of Caden Chapman. Yi Fen has written about the experience.

A year ago, my sister Zhen and I decided to sign up for the TCS Amsterdam Marathon after coming across a post on Instagram. We have both been running since our late teens, but this would be my first full marathon, and Zhen’s first half marathon. Not only were we excited to take on the challenge, we were excited to return to our birth country, The Netherlands, after many years. When it came to choosing a charity for which we would be fundraising, it was an easy one. Our decision to fundraise for the Mito Foundation is very personal.

The joy, the serenity and the happiness running brings is truly an indescribable feeling; and one that Caden Chapman along many others who suffer from mitochondrial disease will never be able to experience.  I first knew of Caden back in 2014, when I moved to Forster, NSW, where I met his aunt Melissa Chapman. Although I have never had the pleasure of meeting this brave little boy, I enjoyed many wonderful stories of Caden. His determination to live, despite losing all motor skills, and basic life functions, towards the end of his short life, has inspired me to fundraise for the Mito Foundation; spread the word, and create awareness about this rare and debilitating disease.

We spent the spring and winter months training in our respective cities; Melbourne and Forster, NSW. Finally, it was time for us to head over to Amsterdam for the event we had been training for. There in Amsterdam, we met with our younger brother, Shawn, who flew in from London for the weekend to cheer us on along the sidelines.

The morning started with oats, banana and coffee. Our usual pre-run routine, except this was filled with a mixture of excitement and nerves. As we headed towards the Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam, we were met with thousands of runners. With trance music pumping, the stadium was filled with lots of energy. What an incredible way to start the run.

The marathon route took us to the outskirts of Amsterdam, along the ever so scenic Amstel river. And on the right hand side were green fields with cows and sheep, with the occasional farm house. Around the 20 kilometre mark, we ran pass a Dutch town called Ouderkerk. Local residents joined in the fun and cheered on the runners as they ran pass. The most dreaded wall hit at 32 kilometres. At this point, I was feeling tightness in my hips and knee. There were times where I would look down my the Mito Foundation running jersey that read “Team Mito”, whilst reminding myself of the reason I was running this event.  At the 35 kilometre mark, I heard my name being called out. I thought it was just a figment of my imagination, but as I looked up, I saw my beautiful brother on the sidelines! It moved me beyond words. That gave me a surge of energy. After a quick kiss and a hug, I carried on with the run.

The last 400 metres of the run saw us running into the Olympic stadium with hundreds and thousands of supporters in the audience stands, cheering and clapping. I felt like an Olympian as I gathered every ounce of energy left in me and sprinted across the finish line. It was truly an indescribable feeling. To have completed my first full marathon, it was more than words can describe. The adrenaline, the emotions, and the exhaustion – all at the same time.
This event has been a very meaningful one for both Zhen and I. We are thankful for all the support along the way from our beautiful family and friends. Last but not least, we would like to thank the Mito Foundation and we will continue to support them and the great work that they have done to help sufferers of mitochondrial disease. Go Team Mito!

– Yi Fen, 2016