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
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.”
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.”