Researching the cures


Well batted Mark! 1,000-mile challenge smashes fundraising target

BBC Cricket commentator, Mark Church, finished his mammoth 1,000-mile fundraiser for PCRF on 04 December, arriving at the Kia Oval from Lords to complete the 200th 5-mile run between the two iconic cricket grounds.

Mark was met by a cheering crowd, which included most of the Surrey County Cricket team, many of whom had run with Mark at various stages through his challenge.

His fundraising idea was inspired by his dad Tony, who died of pancreatic cancer in March 2017 – just 6 months after being diagnosed –  and who shared Mark’s love of cricket.   Keen to raise awareness as well as funds for research, Mark live tweeted his 200 runs between Tony’s favourite cricket grounds over 50 gruelling days.  Chronicling the highs and lows of pounding the streets of London since 08 October, through tweets photos and video updates, and sharing the fun he had with running buddies and people he met along the way, Mark generated huge admiration for his efforts from legions of cricket fans all over the world. Despite joking that his twitter followers were witnessing “a 45-year-old man slowly coming apart at the seams”, he never stopped smiling!

He said: “I’d been so busy with work and family commitments in the run up to the fundraiser, and it was probably a good thing I didn’t think too hard about what I was attempting to do, as I clearly didn’t appreciate just how hard or painful it would be in practice!

“There was one point, in week 2, when my knee completely seized up and I couldn’t put any weight on it, I seriously wondered whether I could continue. But I thought about Dad and what he went through during his illness, and this put things into perspective for me. I switched from running to a kind of hop and hobble approach and managed to keep going.”

Mark’s Just Giving page is still open, but it currently stands at over £37,000 – not bad for an idea he hoped might raise £10,000 at best!

He said: “I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the support from so many people – many of them I’ve never met before and more that I will probably never meet in person. I’m very grateful to the corporate sponsors for all their help with kit, food and energy snacks, the staff at the Oval and Lords for their unstinting support.  And to those who tweeted messages to me – especially when it was cold, raining, dark and when I was in pain from injury – you kept my spirits up when things got really tough, so I need to thank everyone for that too!

“It’s been a real adventure; a tough but joyful one. And while I’m relieved to finally finish, there’s part of me that will miss it now that it’s over!”

Maggie Blanks, PCRF’s Chief Executive was among the crowd at the Oval to see Mark finish. She said: “It was emotional for everyone. We all felt Mark’s pride and relief when he arrived and realised that he’d done it! We’re honoured he chose to fundraise for us. The incredible total he’s raised will be used to fund cutting-edge research to help more people survive this disease.”