Friday, June 15, 2012
GENEROUS sponsors have donated a massive £10,000 towards an appeal for a young cancer sufferer whose supporters competed in the St Albans Half Marathon on Sunday.
The 70-strong Team Bailey, raising funds for treatment for Bailey Sarwa, a 13 year old suffering a recurrence of a rare cancer, were among hundreds walking, jogging or running in the annual event.
The St Albans half marathon was founded in 1982 by local businessman Phil Gibson, who wanted to raise money for a hospital scanner following the death of his mother from breast cancer.
Proceeds from the event are distributed to local charities and voluntary organisations.
There were nearly 3,000 competing in the half marathon, 307 in the 5K run, 258 walking and 1,546 in the children’s fun run.
Bailey’s mum Becki Jones said she was speechless at the amount raised for her son, a Year 8 pupil at Marlborough School, who has been denied potentially life-saving antibody treatment at Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Businesses, schools and locals throughout St Albans have now collectively raised over £145,000 towards Bailey’s antibody treatment in either Germany or the United States.
Among those competing was sole wheelchair athlete Gary Donald, 57, who completed the half marathon in one hour, 32 minutes.
Gary said there was great rapport between him and fellow competitors, with him yelling out a warning when whizzing past them down slopes and runners returning the favour when bolting past him uphill.
He explained: “They said, ‘I’m walking past you on your right.’ There was a lot of laughter. They were very considerate all the way round.”
Gary added: “It was absolutely wonderful. I’ve only had this race chair for six weeks. This is the first half marathon I have done; before this I’ve only done a 5km race in a day chair.
“I was going really fast downhill in the last section. I was doing about 30mph, overtaking runners who had gone past me on the hills, I was just this heap of metal flying past. But I did have a crash helmet on.”
Winner of the half marathon in one hour 14 minutes, Mark Ryall, blamed three-day-long stag celebrations in Prague for adding five minutes to his finish time.
Mark said: “I came back Saturday night after the bender. I just went straight to bed, got up, put my running shoes on and was out the door. I felt very ill for the first mile or two and my heart rate was very fast. Then I settled in. The marshals were all very helpful.”
Mark admits his win was a surprise because he “eats terribly and drinks, but I do a lot of training.”
Second place went to David Meacock (1:16:23) while Simon Riley came third (1:16:23).
Those placed in the first 10 to cross the half marathon finish line included members of Victoria Park Harriers, St Albans Striders and Harpenden Arrows.
In the 5K race Stuart Berry of Dunstable Road Runners came first in 19 minutes, 11 seconds. Sam Poulton was second (19:23) and James Sothcott came third (19:29).