From a marathon to a mile

On Sunday, I joined Mark and Harry Keville on Day Two of their 10-marathon challenge, and ran from Worthing to Chichester (plus a bit more to make up the distance) on a lovely sunny day on the south coast.

And this Sunday (27th), I am switching to the other end of the spectrum at The Butetown Mile – a fantastic community event appealing to all runners in Cardiff which is over in less than five minutes for some.

Last Sunday, we all met up at Worthing Hospital at 8.30am to meet staff who are part of a network offering the new NHS service Robbie’s Rehab.

Alongside Mark and Harry were routefinder Neil, and Harry’s friend Dave, with Steve on the bike and Neil’s family in the support car.

It was already a sunny morning and we set off for a gorgeous stretch along the coast.

On the first day, Mark and Harry had done a half marathon on each of Jersey and Guernsey and, with another eight days to go, it was important to let them set the pace, with the rest of us there to keep them on track and entertained.

There were snacks, there was some talk of chafing, there was banter with passers-by, and there was some walking on pebbly beaches when the path ran out. Most importantly, there was a great atmosphere which it was a privilege to be part of.

We turned inland towards Chichester and the non-pavemented roads became a bit more challenging as the traffic zipped by, but it certainly focussed the mind and stopped any thoughts of tiredness.

Reaching Chichester, we headed to the hospital for the second visit of the day, and Mark even put in a sprint as we got close.

At the hospital, it was lovely to see lots of the Keville family had turned out to welcome them in, and Mark and Harry were visibly lifted by all the support. 

The hospital stops also gave such a clear and meaningful connection to the cause they are running for. Mark and Harry didn’t want to talk to staff there about the running – they wanted to spread the word about Robbie’s Rehab.

With that visit done, we headed back out – there was still another 5k to do to complete the day’s distance.

Getting started again after a break is never easy but we were soon on our way and then we were done! 

A tremendous day and gave just a window into what’s involved with multi-day challenges. 

Thanks again to Mark and Harry for the invite and to Neil, Dave, Steve, Susie and Sophs for the company and support (and the lunch, water and biscuits). To follow Mark and Harry’s progress, visit https://robbiesrally.wordpress.com/

And if you are in Cardiff at the weekend, do check out Sunday’s Butetown Mile – the start is not far from John Lewis and you can sign up on the day. Elite race is 11am, with the fun run at 11.15am.

For more information – click here: https://en-gb.facebook.com/butetownmile/

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Inspiration – The Keville family

If you are about to tackle 10 marathons in 10 days, you need motivation – and that’s definitely not a problem for Mark and Harry Keville.

This father-and-son pair are taking on their multi-marathon challenge in August to raise awareness and funds for robbiesrally.

This charity was set up by Harry’s younger brother Robbie who was diagnosed with a brain tumour and passed away last February. He was just 10.

It was just over four years after the family had lost his mum Kate to cancer. I met the family last year, when they supported Stand Up To Cancer with this incredibly powerful film about their family’s experience

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Along with daughter Lara, Mark and Harry have continued the work that Robbie started and, in June, Robbie’s Rehab was launched – a new NHS service to help families at Southampton Children’s Hospital where Robbie was treated.

Mark said: “During the last year of Robbie’s life, he decided to set up a charity and named it robbiesrally. As a family we have continued to develop the charity to help children adapt to normal life after completing their treatment.

“Last year, our challenges included Harry and I doing a 15-day kayak trip called robbiesrow, and Lara playing tennis for 24 hours in robbiesrackets, while other supporters have been running marathons, obstacle races and organising all sorts of events – it has been wonderful to see so many people get involved.”

Tough training

This year, Mark and Harry have plotted their 10-marathon route for robbiesregionrunaround all the hospitals that are linked with Southampton. I asked Mark what he thought was in store…

“It’s going to be hard – we are under no illusions about that! We start on August 19th with two half marathons  on the same day– one on Jersey and one on Guernsey – then we continue with nine full marathons in a row.

“Even day one is a challenge and training has been tough – we have both suffered injuries and blisters, and it’s been a matter of fitting in runs when we can.

“Harry has been in Exeter doing his finals at university so training has had to take second place to everything else, and I have been busy with the launch of the new Robbie’s Rehab service.

“We both ran the D-Day 44-miler in June along the Normandy beaches as preparation, but it has been massively different to what we did to train for the row. For that, we were able to build up as the challenge went on, but this is going to be hard from the start.

“I think the biggest risk is injury, and staying well fed and hydrated each day.

“With the plan to visit all the hospitals, it has made the logistics complicated to arrange, but we are really looking forward to having those targets each day.

“On each visit, we hope to visit the paediatric ward and meeting some staff and patients to say a few words about the charity and what we are doing, so that is going to remind us exactly why we are putting ourselves through it all.

“We will need to get there on time to stick to a schedule, but we certainly aren’t planning to break any sprinting records – we want to go sloooooowly to avoid undue injury and just make sure we get round.”

“The plan is to finish in Southampton on August 28th, which is Bank Holiday Monday, and if people want to join us for the run into Southampton, we are hoping it will be a free-for-all so that anyone at all can join in.”

To find out more and follow the challenge, visit robbiesrally on Facebook here and you can support their work by donating here.