Royal Parks Half Marathon
The central London Half Marathon, which began in 2008, takes in some of the capital’s world-famous landmarks on closed roads, and four of London’s eight Royal Parks – Hyde Park, The Green Park, St James’s Park and Kensington Gardens.
Three of our runners share their motivations for signing up.
“Zac was the strongest person I knew. The strength he showed throughout his treatments was something I could only aspire to and I needed to do him proud. If I could show just a small percentage of the strength he did I could achieve anything so I decided there to sign up for this year’s half marathon.”Luke Staples
Luke lost his four year old son Zac to a brain tumour in April last year. Zac was originally diagnosed in March 2021 with a rare form of brain tumour called an Embryonal Tumour with Multi-Layered Rosettes (ETMR).
Over the following three weeks Zac had three major surgeries to remove the tumour. This was followed by Proton Beam Therapy at the Christie Hospital in Manchester over a six week period.
Zac then four rounds of high dose chemotherapy at the Royal Marsden in Sutton over four months.
At his post treatment MRI on New Year’s Eve his family found out that the tumour had returned and that the only option left was palliative care.
Zac passed away on April 12th 2022, at home surrounded by his family and loved ones just over a year after his original diagnosis.
Cheering on a friend made Luke want to sign up
In the months after Zac’s death, running was the last thing on Luke’s mind.
“When we lost Zac, I went into a severe depression. I used to exercise quite regularly, but I was finding I had more interest in the bottom of a box of chocolates. I lost interest in everything – I was at such a low.
“I’d never been interested in running, or watching it. The thought of getting on a treadmill or going for a jog was not my cup of tea at all. “
It was cheering on a friend, Caroline, at the 2022 Royal Parks Half Marathon, that gave Luke the idea he could get involved.
“When I arrived outside Buckingham Palace, waiting for Caroline to run past, I was genuinely blown away by the day. The support the crowd gave to random people taking part in the half marathon who they didn’t even know was incredible. You couldn’t help but be drawn into the amazing atmosphere. But what pulled me in the most was seeing runners representing the various charities, seeing the various cancer charities being represented was amazing but most of all was the Brain Tumour Charity.
We celebrated Caroline’s incredible run in a pub near Green Park, I sat there and said to myself:
“Zac was the strongest person I knew. The strength he showed throughout his treatments was something I could only aspire to and I needed to do him proud. If I could show just a small percentage of the strength he did I could achieve anything so I decided there to sign up for this year’s half marathon.”
Training for the run brought about not only increased fitness, but a complete change in lifestyle, as Luke explains:
“It took me a while to get into it, but I’ve changed the way I live. I’ve been running at least three days a week, weight training three days a week and I have completely changed my diet in preparation for the event. ”
“I want to raise awareness and lobby for more research into treatments to improve patients’ quality of lives and so that my husband, and others, can live a healthier life for longer.”
Laura Bowyer is running in support of husband Rich, who was diagnosed with an oligodendroglioma in October 2021. His diagnosis came completely out of the blue, after he suffered a massive tonic-clonic seizure. Laura explains:
“We had just moved into our first house together 17 days before and I woke up to him in a full seizure. When he eventually came round he was slurring, and couldn’t move his right arm very well so the paramedics whisked him straight to hospital and he was put into a CT scanner almost immediately where they found a rather large oligodendroglioma.“
Rich had surgery in December 2021 which left him with right-sided weakness and aphasia. He had a complicated recovery from surgery followed by radiotherapy and then chemotherapy. He was able to ring the bell for the end of chemo in April this year.
Laura signed up for the Royal Parks Half Marathon after receiving valuable support from The Charity.
“There’s not a lot I can do to help my husband; I can’t stop his seizures or remove the rest of his tumour, but I want to do anything I can to help The Brain Tumour Charity as it has been such an invaluable resource for the both of us since his diagnosis (I recently completed counselling through the charity). I want to ensure help for my husband but also for the thousands of others who are dealing with brain tumour diagnoses, and living with them every day. I think before my husband was diagnosed I didn’t really know anything about brain tumours and how devastating they are, and how they affect just about every aspect of daily lives so I want to raise awareness and lobby for more research into treatments to improve patients’ quality of lives and so that he (and others) can live a healthier life for longer.”Laura
“I am hoping this will increase the awareness to all people but especially to the young, who may not think about this happening to them.”
Ryan, 27, a police researcher from Jersey, Channel Islands, was diagnosed with a Grade 1 diffuse astrocytoma in spring 2022, and underwent double brain surgery. Due to the tumour’s location, it was not possible to remove it, although a shunt was able to be fitted, which acts as an internal drain.
Since his diagnosis, Ryan has been determined to do his bit to raise awareness of brain tumours. A keen sportsman who finds running helps him deal with the mental pressure of a brain tumour, Sunday’s race will be Ryan’s second half marathon since his diagnosis. He’s already smashed his original fundraising target of £450, raising more than £1000 for the charity.
One of 5 “Inspire” Runners!
Ryan was chosen to be one of the Royal Parks Half Marathon 2023 “Inspire” runners.
Every year the Half Marathon organisers at Royal Parks pick 5 outstanding charity runners who will have their stories published on their website and across their social media channels. It’s a brilliant opportunity to shine a light on their chosen charity. Read Ryan’s “Inspire” story here.
Feeling inspired? Check out our list of events on our website to find out how to get involved!