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We’re doing it for Dale!

By her own admission, Tara Hammond, 30, has never been a runner. But when Tara lost her good friend, Dale, to a brain tumour she and her friend, Karna Robertson, 28, didn’t hesitate to sign up to the London Landmarks Half Marathon together to honour his memory.

Here, Tara, explains why being a part of this exciting event means so much to her and Karna, and how they know that hand-in-hand they will both make it across that finish line…

On Sunday 29 March 2020, Tara, 30, and her good friend, Karna, 28, will be taking part in the London Landmarks Half Marathon, in memory of Karna’s cousin Dale. The event, which has a route taking in London’s most iconic landmarks, will be a very emotional occasion for both ladies, but despite neither one being runners, they both share a very powerful and poignant reason to take part – Dale Cable.

Tara explains: “Dale was Karna’s cousin. I worked with him for years and his sunny personality and warmth made every day fun. He was the life and soul at every social occasion and the whole community adored him. 

“When he was diagnosed with a brain tumour out of the blue, we were all deeply upset and very shocked.”

Dale was diagnosed with an astrocytoma and quickly started having treatment. But sadly, just 18 months after his diagnosis, he passed away, aged 36.

Tara explains: “The whole community was devastated by Dale’s death. Even in his final months, Dale was always so brave and positive. When he began struggling to walk, he refused to let that stop him from getting about. Instead he covered his mobility scooter in stickers, put a basket on the front for his groceries and would whizz around town with his young son sat on his lap. His positivity was inspirational.”

And it was this incredible attitude and determination that later got Tara thinking.

She explains: “Karna and I had wanted to do something in Dale’s memory for a while, but when I was watching the London Marathon one day, suddenly something clicked. I wasn’t a runner so I knew I didn’t want to attempt a marathon, but I thought why not try a half? I spoke to Karna and we agreed that we would do it together. There was only one rule. If we were doing it, we were doing it for Dale and we were crossing that finish line together.”

The challenge ahead

Together, the two mums signed up to take part in the exciting event, which is the only half marathon to go through both the City of London and City of Westminster. But as their thoughts turned to training for the 13.1 mile route, the good friends from Suffolk were the first to admit how daunted they were by the challenge ahead.

Tara says: “We’re not runners. In fact we’re far from runners – we’ve never done anything like this before! Karna and I joke that the closest we’ve ever got to running is running after the kids or to the pub for a gin and tonic. It’s going to be really challenging for us. But that just makes us even more passionate about completing it for Dale. We don’t want other people facing the devastating loss that we have. Something needs to change and this is Karna’s and my way of helping to be a part of that.

“We have downloaded the NHS Couch to 5k app and our training is already going from strength to strength. Within just four weeks, we’ve gone from only being able to run for 60 seconds at a time to being able to jog for seven minutes continuously. Unfortunately, both being busy mums, we can’t do all of our training together. But we try to meet up once a week to run together and are always on the other end of the phone to give each other a boost if we’re struggling.

“I’m not going to deny that some days training feels very heavy-going and we wonder what we’ve let ourselves in for her. But at times like this, we just think of Dale. We think of his family and his little boy and we instantly feel fired up again to make important change for everyone going through this. To spur us on, we regularly run past Dale’s house and we have a playlist with lots of Dale’s favourite songs on. We’ve even set up a post on Facebook where his friends and family can suggest songs that make them think of Dale for us to listen to too. It reminds us that the whole community is behind us and just how important what we’re doing is.”

Getting the community involved

Alongside their training plan, the two mums have also started brainstorming how they’re going to fundraise. They’ve already contacted some local businesses who are going to donate some prizes for a raffle. They are looking to arrange a family afternoon tea in their local community centre and have spoken to their local pub about putting on some events.

Tara says: “Our whole community is rallying and the support we’ve had from The Charity has been invaluable too. So far, any time that we’ve emailed the team with a question or for some advice, we’ve had a response within the day. I know that I can message them at any time and that feels really reassuring when were we’re taking on a challenge that feels so daunting to us.

“Now we’re just taking our training day by day. Some days when we’re out jogging in the rain, I think if Dale could see us now, he’d be in absolute hysterics. But I also know that he’d be really proud.”

My advice for anyone thinking about signing up for the London Landmarks Half Marathon, would be to just do it. If we can do this, you can too!

“We look forward to seeing you on that start line. And, again, together at the finish.”

Inspired by Tara and Karna?

By joining our team at the London Landmarks Half Marathon 2020, you’ll help fund vital research, provide critical support and drive change for every single person affected by a brain tumour.