Saul Sassoon has been Virgin Money South Africa's Chief Financial Officer for the past 3 years. During this time he has been fortunate enough to take part in three Virgin London Marathons, and says that it's the highlight of his year.
"Taking part in the Virgin London Marathon is an experience like no other," says Saul. "Being there, among the 36 000 strong crowd, is such a privilege. The energetic atmosphere is indescribable and every year it keeps getting better!"
This year was particularly special for Saul as one of his charges – Siya Mqambeli from Dobsonville, Soweto – finished the marathon in a time of 2:29,27, becoming the first South African man to cross the line and achieving his dream of placing well in a high-profile international event.
Saul explains: "I travelled to London with Siya, Patrick Kanyane and Joshua Mathebula. They were selected from running clubs around South Africa on the strength of their written motivations. All three said they dreamed of participating in an event such as the Virgin London Marathon, but did not have the resources to do so.
Besides winning a trip of a lifetime, the three runners were also given running kits from Adidas, two months' training in a Virgin Active club of their choice and a London sightseeing tour with Heidie Aitken, Brand Manager of Virgin Money South Africa.
Saul trains all year for the Virgin London Marathon, running 10km during the week and up to 32km on a Sunday. "It's all worth it - the early mornings, the aches and pains – nothing beats taking part in this world-famous marathon," says Saul.
Admittedly, Saul is not an experienced athlete, but every year he puts his all into the marathon to raise funds for charity.
This year, Saul and Virgin Money South Africa selected the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship as their beneficiary. The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship supports budding young entrepreneurs, giving them the skills, opportunities and inspiration they need to launch and grow their businesses.