Ten Years of London Marathon graphic

Some run out of gratitude for being alive. Some run out of frustration at not being able to do more. Some run in memory of those they have lost.

All who run the London Marathon as part of Team Sarcoma do so knowing that all the miles they cover in training and on the day, the funds they raise and the awareness they bring about represent hope. Hope that change will happen for everyone affected by sarcoma.

We caught up with some of the inspirational people who have taken on the 26.2 miles since Sarcoma UK was founded ten years ago. These are the people whose hard work made it possible to fund huge chunks of innovative research that simply would not have otherwise been possible. 

Meet the hope bringers.

Have you got a London Marathon story to share? Let us know tenyears@sarcoma.org.uk

Photo of Anna Brass

2013 - Anna Brass 

Anna managed to get a place via the ballot. In 2012, her mum was diagnosed with Schwannoma.  In December of that year, Anna ran a 10k race. Towards the end of that race, she spotted another runner wearing a Sarcoma UK vest and immediately knew she wanted to run for Sarcoma UK too. 
 
My marathon story started back in October 2012, when a London Marathon magazine arrived through my letter box saying I had been successful In getting a place in the ballot! I was really surprised and pleased, as I had tried for a number of years to get in to the London Marathon, but I hadn’t had much luck. I quickly realised what a huge challenge and commitment it was going to be, so I got myself a training plan and started straight away. I thought it could be a once in a life time opportunity and I knew I needed to give myself plenty of time to get fit enough. 
  
In 2012, my mum had been undergoing lots of tests in hospital. Eventually, she was diagnosed as having a Schwannoma (a type of sarcoma). In November 2012, my mum had a major operation to remove the Schwannoma that was growing from a nerve in her back. My mum's Schwannoma was benign, but had grown quite large and was dangerously twisting its way around her aorta, intestines and kidneys. It was a long but successful operation and we are forever grateful to have had such amazing surgeons and healthcare staff looking after her. 
  
In December 2012, I ran a 10k race as part of my marathon training. Towards the end of the race, I spotted another runner wearing a Sarcoma UK vest, and I immediately knew I wanted to run for them too. After the race, I started researching Sarcoma UK to see if I could get sponsored for my run, in order to raise money for them. 
  
In April 2013, I proudly ran the London Marathon in my Sarcoma UK vest and raised over £600 for the charity. I am so happy to say that after a steady recovery, my mum was able to be there with me, cheering me on all the way! Since the London Marathon, my husband and I have had two beautiful children. I have a six-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son.
  
During these strange times of lockdowns and restrictions, I have regained my love for running. I really enjoyed little runs through my village as my one exercise a day. Running always lifts my mood, and I’ve found it a great way to get some fresh air and clear my mind. My little girl has started to enjoy running too, and we've shared a couple of these runs together. I also have my trusted running partner, my dog! He helped me to train for the Marathon and is still always ready for a run. I only run short distances now, and I get out running as and when I can, but who knows! Maybe I'll take up the Marathon challenge again one day. 
  
My mum is still as amazing as ever! She has been doing her own lockdown exercise challenge.  She has been walking 4 miles a day in her back garden, walking up and down her patio. In this last week alone, she has walked her own marathon! Truly inspirational. 
  
For anyone thinking of running the London Marathon, I'd say go for it! It is something I'll always be proud to have achieved. It was an amazing experience, and the atmosphere was incredible. You don't have to be a brilliant runner, you just need to be determined to do it, and be in a position where you can dedicate time to training. It’s hard work, but very rewarding. 
  
I'm very happy that with the help of my family and friends, my Marathon enabled me to make a small contribution to help people with sarcomas. 

Photo of Dr Cheika Kennedy
2013 - Dr Cheika Kennedy

Cheika is a retroperitoneal sarcoma radiologist. She ran the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK after a chance conversation. Chieka has also completed the Prudential Ride London 100 and Swim Serpentine Two-Mile Swim, which qualified her for the  ‘London Classics’ medal. She says it all started when she ran the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK back in 2013. 
 
I am a retroperitoneal sarcoma radiologist for the East Midlands Sarcoma Service. I ran London Marathon for Sarcoma UK after a chance conversation at the British Sarcoma Group Conference in 2012. I completed the application form there and then, but I was actually quite surprised to be selected. The fundraising aspect really helped motivate me towards my goal of running my first ever marathon. 
  
Despite the gruelling training, it was all worth it. The feeling of crossing the finish line was exhilarating! I cried and hugged the poor army cadet who gave me my medal! Since the Marathon, I joined a local running club and my fellow runners have become my main friendship group outside of work. I have also joined an online running group called ‘Fordy Runs’, and have made a number of friends and contacts through this group too. We meet up regularly around the UK. Last year, we ran at the Beat the Boat 10k event in Windsor, dressed up as pirates!
  
I have loved running in local and national events, and I have hosted a number of fundraising fun runs myself. I can usually be seen running in fancy dress, like at the superhero run I organised for Blesma, a charity that helps all serving and ex-Service men and women who have lost limbs or suffered life-changing injuries. 
  
Since running the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK, life has been good. Exercise has become part of my norm. I ended up sustaining an injury (as all good runners seem to), and decided to do more cross-training. I started triathlon training in 2015, and I love the all-over fitness and strength that it gives me. I cycled from London to Paris in 2016. 

I have also completed the Prudential Ride London 100 (an annual cycling festival) and Swim Serpentine Two-Mile Swim, which along with the London Marathon qualified me for the enormous ‘London Classics’ medal. It all started with the marathon for Sarcoma UK. 
  
My advice for anyone who would like to run the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK would be to just do it! The fundraising was challenging but definitely motivated me to keep going when I was running. I didn’t want to let all my sponsors and patients down. 
  
I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to run the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK. It was one of my best sporting moments and one of the highlights of my life. It’s a huge achievement, with the added bonus of doing good for our patients and our charity. It really has been the foundation for many other sporting challenges, so thank you.

Photo of Neill Simmons 

2014 - Neill Simmons


Neill ran the London Marathon on behalf of his lifelong friend and Sarcoma UK trustee, Dave Thompson. Neill says he’ll never forget the day he got the call that he had a place in the 2014 Marathon. He remembers the feeling running past the Sarcoma UK cheer station on mile 25. ’I cannot put into words what that moment meant’, says Neill. ‘I hugged Sam and then Dave and just wanted to stop there for a moment.'
  
I wanted to run the Marathon to support and raise awareness on behalf of a lifelong friend, Dave Thompson. Dave, who sadly passed away 4 years ago, joined Sarcoma UK’s Board of Trustees in 2014. Since 2005, Dave had been poorly with varying levels of severity, interspersed with periods of relative calm after he endured numerous operations with brief respite. As the years passed by, I realised there was never going to be a full recovery. 

I recall seeing Dave in 2013, when he gave me an update on his health. I remember feeling so helpless, not being able to do anything other than offer words of comfort. It was then that I had a lightbulb moment. Why not run the London Marathon in his honour? 

When asking Dave which charity he would like me to run for, he mentioned two. The Royal Marsden Hospital, where he had spent so much of his recent life, or Sarcoma UK. I’ll never forget the day I got a call to say I had a place in the 2014 Marathon, running for Sarcoma UK. One of only six places, I believe!
  
The Sarcoma UK base camp on marathon day was close to the 25-mile mark. I had seen other runners get encouragement from their own charity’s camps during the course of the run, which really spurred me on to get to the 25-mile mark. Dave, who hadn’t told me he had been very unwell in the morning, was there with his family, as was my wife Sam, who spotted me first. I cannot put into words what that moment meant. I hugged Sam and then Dave, and I just wanted to stop there for a moment, but they soon sent me packing! I had to push on and complete the course. 

I can recall almost floating to the finish line. I was physically and mentally drained. Despite all my training beforehand, I ‘hit the wall’ about five miles too soon. Despite this, I never stopped once, apart from the brief hugging moment. I can recall crossing the line and being handed a medal and a bag of food and drink. I asked the lady handing this out if I had won the race. Her forced smile suggested I wasn’t the first to ask her that!  
  
Training for the Marathon totally changed my life for around four months prior to the big day. I knew afterwards that I couldn’t commit myself to that level of preparation again. I am extremely proud of what I did. I wouldn’t say it changed my life, but the one thing I find so gratifying, is that for a brief period in his life, it changed Dave’s. 

Once I had been offered the place to run for Sarcoma UK, Dave became a lot more involved with the organisation. His wife, Anjula, would often tell me how he loved helping other people, offering the benefit of his knowledge at their time of need. At this time, Dave was the longest ever sarcoma survivor in the UK, and he gave others so much inspiration not to give up, and to value the remainder of their time with loved ones. 
  
The rewards of running the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK are beyond words I can articulate, and the memories stick with you forever. I would say to push yourself to go for a demanding finish time, and stick strictly to this for the first few weeks of training. You can always adjust your finish time as you progress. 

I would also suggest having your name printed or stuck on your marathon day running shirt. I regret not doing this, as the encouragement that the hordes of supporters give to runners by name is unbelievable.

Remember it! Take in every sight, sound and smell. You may never experience anything like this again… Unless you get the running bug of course! 

Photo of David Hart

2015 - David Hart 

David ran the London Marathon in memory of his dad, Mick, who passed away in February 2015. David says 'training helped me through a really difficult time. Completing it with the knowledge that we had achieved our goal together, whilst raising money to support people in a similar situation to Dad, was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had’.

I ran for the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK in memory of my dad, Mick, who passed away in February 2015. Dad had been a sarcoma patient for a number of years. He was an avid runner himself, running up to the time he, unfortunately, lost his leg to the disease. After completing many marathons himself, including the London Marathon a number of times, it was only fitting that I ran the Marathon just two months after he died.   
  
Finishing the London Marathon that year was hugely emotional. During his last few months, my dad effectively coached me to beat his time, and I did with a time of 2:48! The training helped me through a really difficult time. Completing the Marathon with the knowledge that we had achieved our goal together, whilst raising money to support people in a similar situation to Dad, was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. I’ve run seven marathons including that one, but wearing the Sarcoma UK vest in London has been the stand-out for me. 
  
Since then, I have continued fundraising for Sarcoma UK, and other great causes. I think that when you have been affected by something that a specific charity supports, the reward is so much greater. My wife and I have also had a second daughter, and Dad would now be a very proud Grandfather to three beautiful girls, as I’ve become an Uncle too! When they grow up, Matilda, Lily and Robyn will learn all about their Grandad, and how he inspired his own children to take on challenges just like the London Marathon.
  
To anyone considering running the Marathon for Sarcoma UK, I would say the support and communication is great. When choosing to support a charity, having a personal reason for doing so is important and for me was a huge inspiration. There is also an opportunity for people who may not have been affected by the condition in some way to support a very worthy cause that helps so many people. 

Photo of Victoria and her family

2016 - Victoria Payne  

Victoria and her sisters, Phillippa and Georgina, all ran the London Marathon in three consecutive years, raising £4,000 each. The ladies ran in memory of their mother, and wanted to give other people the opportunity to take part in drug trials as she did. 

Myself and my two sisters, Phillippa and Georgina, all ran the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK in three consecutive years! We managed to raise over £4,000 each. The year after mine, I then went into run the Brighton Marathon, and my eldest sister Phillippa ran the Paris Marathon the year after hers. We certainly caught the running buzz after taking part in the London Marathon! 

We all ran in memory of our wonderful mother, who passed away from sarcoma. She was given the opportunity to take part in lots of trial drugs, so we wanted to make sure that others have that same opportunity. She was there for Phillippa’s marathon, watched Georgina’s from home and then passed away before mine. I was definitely the person she never thought would run a marathon, so my thought when crossing the finish line was just wishing I could see how shocked her face would be to see it!
  
Now we have three kids between us, we all run occasionally. We all did a moonwalk together a year or so ago, but definitely prefer to run marathons rather than walk! The kiddies keep us very busy. Other than my children, running the London Marathon was definitely one of my biggest achievements!
  
For those training, I would just say it’s all a state of mind, and if you are determined enough to get across that line, you will get there! When you start to train, run slower than you walk if you need to. Just put one foot in front of the other, and then just enjoy the day. It’s such an amazing experience! 
  
Photo of Alison and her husband

2017 - Alison Pullen 


In 2017, Alison ran the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK on the 20th anniversary of her dad’s death. Alison's family became very involved in her training and fundraising for the Marathon, and her husband Matt still helps the Sarcoma UK runners today.

I was keen to run the London Marathon in 2017 for a charity that had a personal connection. January of that year marked 20 years since my dad had died from an undetected sarcoma. Since 1997, there has of course been a lot of progress in diagnosing and treating this often unknown type of cancer, but there is much more to be done. I was keen to support Sarcoma UK in their ongoing research and support. I never regretted that decision and it was a huge privilege to run for Sarcoma. My mum joined in with my fundraising efforts by hosting dinners for her friends in return for a donation to the charity!  
  
Crossing the finish line was a mixture of relief and happiness. I will never be a fast runner, but I had finished in a quicker time than my first London Marathon in 2014, and I was delighted with that. Overall, I had enjoyed this marathon more than the first - yes that is possible! It had meant so much to have friends and family supporting me on the route. Finding my husband, Matt, quite soon after the finish was also really emotional. He does marathons all the time, but knew how important this one was for me.     
  
I'm still running and have done some fundraising for other charities along the way. In April, myself, Matt and our children Ben & Ellie, all did some running to support the 2.6 Challenge and donate to Sarcoma UK. I think it's so important if you are able to do so, to support our amazing charities during these difficult times.  

Marathons are a way of life in our family due to Matt's running, but me and the kids like to ensure we get our time to run too! Whilst working from home I’ve been trying to convert some of my normal commuting time to running. It definitely doesn't happen every day but I feel very grateful for the time I do get outside. Since I ran for Sarcoma UK, Matt has remained involved with the charity by helping with the coaching each year, and we are very glad to still have that connection. 
  
My advice for anyone who would like to run the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK is to go for it! The London marathon is a wonderful experience with so much support and advice throughout. On race day it is so well organised and the support from the public along the route is a huge boost - especially for the slower runners like me! The team at Sarcoma UK were brilliant from start to finish, and it was a huge privilege to run for them. And when it comes to fundraising, check if your employer has a matching scheme - many do and it can be a really great boost to your fundraising total!

Photo of Morten

2021 - Morten Ward

Morten has just finished three years studying Geography at Durham University, and has now started a job with Deloitte in London. He is a really keen sports fan (football, rugby, cricket and NFL), and also loves to cook and BBQ in the summer, as well as walk his dog. The pandemic in 2020 led to the introduction of the Virtual London Marathon, allowing even more people to take part in this special event no matter where they are in the world.

I am running the Virtual London Marathon for Sarcoma UK in memory of my girlfriend’s dad (Dave Thompson), who lost his battle to sarcoma several years ago. Raising money for his legacy and to aid the support of families affected by this disease is so important. I really want to help fund the crucial research that is being done. 

In preparation for the London Marathon, I ran the Great North Run for Sarcoma UK two weeks ago, which was a nice introduction to running long distance. I have also been out and about training around my village.

After the Marathon, I am definitely planning to keep up with running and fundraising. I am hoping to run the London Landmarks Half Marathon this April to raise lots more money for Sarcoma UK. 

If you’re thinking about running the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK, get involved! It's an amazing charity, doing amazing things! 

 

2021 - Nick Gilbert

Nick was fortunate enough to get his place to run the London Marathon in the ballot, and his motivation for running has been to support a charity very close to his family – Sarcoma UK.  
 
Cancer impacts the lives of so many people - one in two of us will develop cancer at some point.  For us as a family, the last couple of years have been very difficult with a number of our close family members being diagnosed, with varying degrees of severity.  

In late 2019, at the age of 44, my wife’s sister, Sarah, was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma in her leg. It was a serious life-threatening condition, but it had not spread. After extensive surgery, she was able to learn to walk again. In typical Sarah fashion, she took on the challenge with energy and enthusiasm and was soon back on her feet, advising the doctors (much to their dismay) what to do next and planning her recovery, house purchase in a new area, new schools for the kids etc.

In a way Sarah is lucky, whilst she faces three monthly scans to check her progress and monitor for metastasis, it was caught early. She is healthy at the moment, and the fabulous support of Sarcoma UK has helped her get through this incredibly difficult time in her life.

Sadly, around a year later in January 2021, her husband Justin was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer. This was another devastating shock for the family. Justin is now undergoing chemotherapy and has dealt with the challenge with his normal stoicism and positive, laid back Kiwi outlook. 

Justin, Sarah and their two young children, Claudia and Elizabeth, face an uncertain future. The daily challenges of both of them living with cancer are extremely tough. But they are amazing people and somehow manage to keep moving forward with positivity, laughter and a love of life. Sarcoma UK are amazing charity who provide incredible support for the many thousands of people that are diagnosed each year. 

It’s been 12 years since my first marathon and I have decided to once again take on the challenge of running 26.2 miles in the London Marathon on 3rd October. I’ve been in training all year, juggling running five times a week with the rest of my life, but I now finally feel like I might actually make the start line! 

Photo of Annette

2021 - Annette Wright 

Now that she is sarcoma-free, Annette is running the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK. She says she doesn’t take running for granted, and tries to enjoy every run during her training. 

In November 2017, aged 41, I was diagnosed with myxoid liposarcoma. Having known for some time that something was wrong, it took several months for me to receive a diagnosis. My world was turned upside down. I was looked after by a great team of specialists coordinating 25 sessions of radiotherapy and a successful 5-hour operation to remove the grapefruit-sized tumor at Nottingham City Hospital. I am now sarcoma-free. I am one lucky lady! 

I'm so excited to be running the London Marathon. At the time of diagnosis, it was really hard to think that distance running would be a possibility, especially such a long distance. Nowadays I don't take going out for a run for granted, and try to enjoy every run. 

Having suffered with sarcoma, I am passionate to ensure that more people are aware of the disease. I feel that little is known about sarcoma, and fundraising will provide vital funds to provide research and also help people affected by this terrible disease.

In preparation for the Marathon, I started building up training from February. Since the beginning of the year, I have covered 540 miles and counting. I have followed a beginner's training plan for the last 16 weeks which has helped me keep on track. I also walked the Yorkshire Three Peaks in July with friends, providing a good amount of sponsorship. 

I very sadly lost my partner Neil from a heart attack on the 20 March this year. He was 48, and we had been together 24 years. Preparing for the Marathon has given me a great focus, and the strength to move forward. If I hadn't have had this challenge to focus on, I know that my year would have been so much harder. 

I love running so plan to still continue to run at least twice a week. I would like to continue fundraising by taking part in more challenging events

My advice for people who would like to run the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK is do it - anything is possible if you put your mind to it. Thanks to all the Sarcoma UK team, and particularly to Louisa, who has been a fantastic support. 

Photo of Katy

2021 - Katy Drake

Katy works in the charity sector in senior finance and operations roles. Until recently, she worked at Sarcoma UK as the Head of Finance and Resources, covering for Karen Wines whilst she was away on maternity leave. Katy also has a printmaking practice, having recently completed an MA in Printmaking. Katy is running the Virtual London Marathon 2021 to raise funds for a charity and cause she really cares about. 
 
As well as knowing that the money raised would go to a fantastic cause, it has been really interesting to see the process of fundraising from the position of the fundraiser. I already knew what fantastic fundraisers we have at Sarcoma UK, but it’s been great to experience them in action, and see it for myself!
 
As a member of staff, I know where all the money goes! This has certainly had an influence on why I chose to raise funds for Sarcoma UK. I know that spend is well controlled at Sarcoma UK, with as much as possible spent on directly improving the lives of Sarcoma patients, so I know that all the money I raise is will be very well spent.
 
I have received lots of support internally. Louisa has been amazing in answering all my questions and the Marathon Zoom call was really useful for good advice. I have also had a lot of donations from other staff members too!
 
I plan on keeping up with running and fundraising, as I’d quite like to do a marathon in real life now! Whilst a virtual marathon has been a good place to start, as it makes it easier on the day that I can start and end at home, I'd really like to experience the buzz of doing a marathon with other runners and lots of supporters! If I can do that while raising funds for a charity, then all the better.
 
My advice for people who would like to run the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK is please do it. It’s a fabulous charity that does a lot of great things. The training has been really helpful to my mental well-being too. If you are a first timer like me, take it slow - I had a six month training plan which was really helpful in preparing me.
 
It's been brilliant experience beginning to end, and although raising money has been important, there have been lots of added benefits such as improved mental well-being, and being able to eat chocolate every day!

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Every year Team Sarcoma raises tens of thousands of pounds to change the lives of sarcoma patients, their friends and families. You can too.

Raise funds to help researchers find better treatments, ensure our nurses can answer each call and email that comes their way, and drive awareness of the disease to save lives.

Feeling motivated? Join us for the TCS London Marathon in 2022.