Cancer Focus Northern Ireland’s CEO on track to running his first marathon for his dad
With just over two weeks to the 40th Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon (Sunday 1 May), Cancer Focus Northern Ireland’s CEO, Richard Spratt is gearing up to run for local cancer research.
Cancer Focus NI is the official charity partner for this year’s marathon and all money raised will be used to fund pioneering cancer research at Queen’s University Belfast.
Richard is passionate about the work the charity does and volunteered to run his first ever marathon for a number of reasons:
“A personal motivation for me is that I’m running the race in memory of my Dad. He passed away last year from cancer after a long journey.
“He was so passionate about research and the work we’re funding at Queen’s University. So to run and raise money for vital cancer research that will take place here in Northern Ireland, I feel is a really fitting legacy. I’m proud to be able to do that in his memory.
“As Chief Executive of the charity, I also feel it is important for me to fundraise as an individual and support the work we’re trying to do organisationally. I have been in this post now over 18 months and during this time I have been learning about the fantastic work that our organisation does in terms of investing in research, running cancer prevention programmes and delivering care for patients throughout Northern Ireland. I can think of no better cause to support.”
Richard is not a stranger to participating in challenging outdoor events. Although this is his first marathon, he has climbed mountains and cycled around Ireland.
“Another reason for signing up to the Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon is that I love a challenge! I felt I was ready for something different, and a marathon is something I always wanted to tick off my bucket list. So when the opportunity presented itself and I was selected to run as part of the Ruby Runners group, I couldn’t say no! As a ‘non-runner’, I felt this really was going to be a challenge and I wanted to see if I could achieve it.”
As part of the Ruby Runners ambassador programme to mark the event’s 40th anniversary, Richard and five other runners are undergoing a comprehensive training package to assist them in completing their first marathon.
Reflecting on his training so far, Richard continued: “I have found the training surprisingly enjoyable! I can see why people love to run and now know that once you do it and are consistent with training, it is fantastic for your mental health and wellbeing. To get out and enjoy nature and be in my own headspace for a while has been brilliant! Although, I probably didn’t appreciate the enormity of what I was getting myself into… the discipline required around running the number of miles you need to in order to prepare for a marathon has been tough.
“Running long-distance was something that I have never done before so I’ve been struggling with the psychology of it all, trying to build myself up to complete long-distance runs. So far, I have completed 18 miles in my training which I think is a great achievement as I currently have a dodgy right knee!
“The discipline of maintaining that consistency and building it into the business of work and family life has required a lot of effort and understanding from my wife, and I am so grateful for her support. It has been as equally challenging as it has been enjoyable!”
If you are running the 40th Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon and you haven’t chosen a charity to run for yet, Richard would encourage you to choose Cancer Focus NI: “The money raised will be used to invest in world class pioneering research that is happening right here on the streets of Belfast, the very streets that we all will be running around on 1 May. And I could do with all the support I can get to help me to get round the route as well!”
You can support Richard’s marathon effort here or hit the orange button on the right