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

.

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.

 

Inspiration – running with Alice

In the course of my work, I am fortunate to speak to many incredible people who have faced cancer either personally or in their close family, and who wish to raise awareness and funds to fight the disease.

Alice ran the Virgin London Marathon in 2015

Their willingness to help others and improve research in the future often sees them taking part in events such as Race For Life, 10k runs, obstacle courses, half-marathons, triathlons and either running or walking marathons (if you haven’t done one, please don’t underestimate how hard a walking marathon is, especially an overnight one).

Some of these amazing volunteers have also become very good friends, and I have trained and completed events with many of these special people.

They constantly inspire me and, in this Inspiration series, I wanted to pass on some running tips and experiences that they (and other people who may have faced adversity in other ways) have had, and how running has played its part.

To kick the series off…I would like to introduce my friend Alice.

ALICE

Alice was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2003 while she was pregnant with her daughter Macie, and then again in 2013 with Ewing’s sarcoma (which is very rare in adults). I asked her to explain why she runs.

Alice completed a Sport Relief mile just weeks after finishing months of chemotherapy

“Running is my time to de-stress and get outdoors. It’s also a chance to meet up with friends and it’s good for your state of mind too.

Whatever is going on at work or home, it is all forgotten when you get out of the door.

My main motivation is that there have been long periods where I just couldn’t run and I would moan about it.

So now, when it is difficult and I am struggling, I just think about the fact that I can. Even if it feels torturous, that thought alone makes me smile and think ‘I might be out in the pouring rain but I am here’.

It goes through my mind surprisingly often and not just on long runs either. And I also think about the fact that there are other people who haven’t survived who can’t be there and that stops me grumbling.

HIGHLIGHTS

One of my proudest moments was my first event after my treatment ended – a Sport Relief mile about a month after a year of chemotherapy had finished. It was a huge milestone and very emotional.

I ran with Macie and it felt amazing to be on a start line again, pinning on a race number after so long. It was my comeback and it was so important.

Alice is helping raise awareness for Stand Up To Cancer’s Celeb Chase Virtual Race this year

At that point, I had this idea about doing the London Marathon. It was something I had wanted to do for a long time but thought it was out of my league – then I decided to sign up and I just knew I would finish it somehow.

The big day was only a year after treatment too – I just went for it!

The atmosphere was incredible and I was doing it for CRUK so that meant a lot. The best bit was doing Tower Bridge – that is my memory of seeing it on TV and the sound of it in real life was incredible – I will never forget that noise.

All of it was hard going, but when I got to Big Ben, I knew I was nearly there.

I was still so relieved to get to the end – there were not too many crowds left in the finishing straight by that point, but there was a stand of CRUK cheerers who were still going, and then I was so delighted to see Macie and my partner John.

NO PRESSURE

My illness has definitely made me more resolute, and I think that shows in my running. I describe myself as slow but one tip I have learned not to try to compare myself to others or try to achieve what they do.

And if anyone is just starting to run, I would say to keep it small and don’t put pressure on. Sometimes just getting outside is the achievement and that is enough.

The first time I went out, I just got to my local park and back, and though I would never do that again. But I did.

Other people are great to motivate you too, and so is doing other activities that you enjoy too. They build up strength and can give you another reason to get fit too – you can do more stuff when you are a bit fitter.

I train as best I can but I never seem to have enough time to follow a plan properly and I usually have to fit in runs when I can and a few exercise classes too.

Overall, I do like a focus or an aim to get me going – even if it’s not an upcoming race, it might be trying to get my parkrun time down.

Obviously I would love to be a bit faster but, for me, it’s all about entering events and finishing them– it gives me such pride and I love my medals.

That said, I did check my Strava after a run recently and I had got an amazing number of PBs, which was great. Then I realised I had left it on when I drove home, so that was slightly disappointing – I thought those PBs were too good to be true!”

Click here for more information about SU2C’s Celeb Chase Virtual Race or here for more about #CRUKChallengers in the CRUK Sports team

Alice is also a CRUK media volunteer (more information here) and is a member of CRUK’s Involvement Network to help shape the charity’s work.

She is on Twitter at @aliceroythorne and Instagram at @royth