Mark And Richard _
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A race that will push us to the limit: taking on The Marathon des Sables

Mark And Richard _
Posted by
06 Dec 2013

Running has always played a part in my life. It's always been a way that I have expressed myself, and something that has provided a great sense of achievement over the years. Whilst my career started to take shape as an actor, I was introduced to the running team at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research by another actor, and was given the opportunity to take on my first race in 2007 – the London Marathon. The most I'd ever run at that point in time was around 8 miles. Another 18.2 miles wouldn't be that difficult would it? I remember reaching half way at Tower Bridge feeling elated and quite strong. I'd foolishly labelled myself with some kind of superhero status. Another 13 miles to go and I'd be crossing the line with Haile Gebrselassie. Little did I know…

There's always a point during a marathon where you get found out, and that’s normally around 15 miles. The body fatigues and the brain’s relentless efforts to bring the whole thing to a halt become unbearable. If you've trained enough, you'll prosper. If you haven't, you'll turn into Thora Hird at The Mall (if you're lucky enough to get there that is). I hadn't trained at all. I was winging it and I was ashamed. But what got me over that finishing line were the paragons of virtue that surrounded me. When I couldn’t reconcile my legs with my brain I began to notice what the other runners were wearing - a multitude of colours and causes. Pictures of loved ones and messages of hope from well-wishers on the backs of T-Shirts. Men and women pushing themselves beyond their limits in order to achieve a collective goal. The genuine enthusiasm and encouragement from the spectators echoed a belief in the human spirit. People, together, are capable of wondrous things.

It woke me up to the world beyond my imagination, and running became more than just a pastime. From that moment on I wore my yellow vest with pride and always made sure that when I represented Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, I would always try my best.

However, it wasn’t until 2012 that it really hit home for me. A friend of mine, Iwan Williams. A multi-talented charm of a lad, who had battled with lymphoma for nearly 4 years, succumbed to the disease. He was 37 years old. He left a beautiful wife, Lowri and 6-year-old son, Cian behind. Suddenly the yellow vest was my caped crusader. It wouldn’t bring Iwan back but it could help me to strive to find solutions for this terrible disease.

And so, after pushing ourselves through triathlons, marathons and Ultra Marathons, Mark and I wanted to take on the ultimate race. A race that would push us beyond ourselves - The Marathon Des Sables. This would need careful consideration, family commitment and nerves of steel.

Running long distances forces you to examine fundamentals. It forces you to think. The team of researchers in Cardiff, who are funded by Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, and who we had the privilege of meeting a few weeks ago, spend their whole lives thinking about blood cancers for the good of mankind. In their words, “we’re close to combating this disease. It's within our grasp”. That’s why we’re doing this; to fund that lifesaving research that will one day find the cure for all blood cancers.

Richard

Comments

19.02.2014

A truly awe inspiring blog. Wishing you guys all the best during MdS...

20.02.2014

This sounds like an absolutely incredible challenge - all the very, very best to you both with this enormous under taking - and HUGE thanks from LLR for your awesome support (and stamina!)

Anonymous
10.03.2014

Diolch Richard,
As you know our dad died from a form of leukemia. I have known you since you were a cheeky little boy, friend of my equally cheeky brother. Godspeed and thank you. with people like you, people like me wont know the pain of watching someone we love die from a blood cancer xxxx

Anonymous
11.03.2014

Richard you are an example to us all.

Anonymous
30.03.2014

"When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it - but all that had gone before." Jacob Riis

Anonymous
30.03.2014

Best of luck guys. Mark I saw you earlier today in Cardiff Bay and wanted to come up and say good luck but my little one was running riot. I did my first marathon 2 weeks ago in Barcelona so doing the equivalent of 6 in over 7 days is unbelievable. I've donated to your cause and I know you're going to do it. Awesome thing to do. Hats off to you both.

Anonymous
01.04.2014

WIshing you all the best, Iws would have been amazed at the lengths your going , physically and mentally to raise money to fund the research that may one day find a cure for this disease . Pob lwc , FFion xx

Anonymous
07.04.2014

Mark and Richard, all the very best with the race. These two guys are always first in the queue to my massage table after half and full marathons. Wish I could be there to help you out on this adventure. What are your race numbers so we can track you progress? Good Luck guys.