Tara Oxley, Group Transformation Manager at Advanced, has achieved the remarkable feat of winning the Legacy Leisure Adversity Award by the Erewash Borough Council at its Active Lives Awards. Nominated by her fellow running mates at Ilkeston Running Club, Tara's resilience in the face of adversity stands as an exemplar of turning life's trials into opportunities for personal growth.
Here is the story of Tara Oxley – a true embodiment of determination and strength.
Tell us more about winning Legacy Leisure Adversity Award.
Running has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Although I've always been passionate about running, I faced challenges with long-distance events due to a rare health condition that took years to diagnose.
In 2021, while secretly undergoing training to participate in the Boston (UK) Marathon in support of my friend who was also preparing, I encountered an issue with my left eye. After visiting an optician, I was urgently taken to the hospital due to a rare form of retinal detachment, which necessitated immediate surgery and forced me to withdraw from the marathon. Over the course of several months, I had three separate operations in an attempt to restore my vision, but sadly, the loss of sight in my left eye took a toll on my confidence.
But again, in the year 2022, with unwavering determination, I started my training with Ilkeston Running Club to participate in the 2022 London Marathon. The turning point came when I was awarded a 'golden ticket'—an opportunity that arose from my consistent participation in the club. Winning that ticket felt like destiny unfolding, but just a week away from the big day, I started feeling strange muscle pains and sickness. After several hospital visits, I was shocked to be diagnosed with Gitelman Syndrome – a kidney disorder that causes severe potassium and magnesium deficiencies in the blood and puts pressure on the heart. I spent eight days in the hospital, which left me heartbroken.
Despite all the health ordeals, I set my sights on the London marathon last year. Through rigorous training, continuous medical supervision, and regular infusions to maintain my well-being, I ultimately accomplished the remarkable feat of completing the 2023 London Marathon in an impressive time of 4 hours and 43 minutes.
What drives your never-give-up attitude?
The root of my determination and never-give-up attitude, I believe, stems from my innate competitiveness and the values instilled in me from an early age. I've always aspired to excel in everything I set my mind to, regardless of the arena. For me, the concept isn't about being the fastest or the best among others, but about being the finest version of myself, pushing personal boundaries and surpassing my own benchmarks.
I am lucky to be surrounded by people who embody a positive mentality, which rubs off on me. When it comes to running marathons, the belief that I could complete it, despite the challenges, was a driving force. Even with stark warnings from my consultant about the grave risks, it only served to strengthen my determination. Deep down, I knew my body is capable because I've done multiple training runs. My conviction was that the right time for me would come, and when it did, I would be ready and able to complete the marathon.
How did you feel after finishing the marathon?
Crossing the finish line of the marathon was an extraordinary moment, filled with a blend of elation and disbelief. I felt amazing and incredibly happy, despite wishing I could have completed it faster. It was a surreal feeling; my running club members were there to cheer me on, and the sense of accomplishment was heightened when I received my medal. My husband's thoughtful gesture of a custom-printed jumper, marking the occasion, made the achievement feel even more special.
How did Advanced support you during your difficult times?
The support I received from Advanced during my challenging times was truly exceptional. Initially, when the opticians detected an abnormality and urgent surgery was required for a detached retina, I thought I could push through. However, when the hospital emphasised the need for immediate medical attention, Advanced promptly stepped in to offer their unwavering support. My manager’s response was clear - my health was the priority. After devising a comprehensive handover plan, my colleagues unanimously conveyed the message: take the time you need to recover.
The overwhelming kindness during my return to work was also incredible. The company took great care in creating an environment that supported my recovery by offering clinical blue light screen covers and protective gear for my phone. They also alleviated communication stress by redirecting emails and encouraging direct calls. Their efforts made my phased return as seamless as possible.
Thank you to Tara for sharing her incredible journey that inspires us to persevere through challenges and never give up on our dreams. Coming soon... watch out for further conversations from our team.