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Runner Feature – Rachel Walsh

29541857_10213695575797376_1974339804986552707_nIn May 2008 at the age of 15 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and received treatment at The University Hospital of Wales. I underwent two months of chemotherapy, whilst still at school, and thanks to the support of my family, friends and teachers I was able to continue my studies, and live as normal a life as I could during a very difficult time.

August 2nd 2018 will mark 10 years since I was told I was cancer free, so I wanted to do something to celebrate this achievement. Whilst receiving my treatment I witnessed the fantastic work that LATCH does to support families during such a difficult time, so I also wanted to use this milestone as an opportunity to raise money to help them continue the work they do every day.

Whilst having treatment I had thought to myself about one day running a marathon for LATCH when I was fit and well enough, and with my 10 year anniversary approaching I revisited this idea. I have never been a natural runner, or in fact a keen athlete of any sort. In school I would try every trick in the book to get out of P.E lessons, and up until the beginning of last year I had very little interest at all in running.  Nevertheless, I downloaded the Couch to 5K series and ran my first ever Parkrun in October 2017. By this point I had already decided I wanted to do something big to mark being 10 years cancer free. Just running a marathon wasn’t going to be enough. So began my idea for 10 Things for 10 Years.

I have challenged myself to complete 10 different challenges by August 2nd 2018. I started off with the Saundersfoot New Year’s Day Swim, and will end it by cutting at least 12 inches of my hair off to donate to the Little Princess Trust, to provide wigs for children with cancer.

The full list is as follows:

  1. New Year’s Day Swim - Saundersfoot
  2. ‎100 Alcohol Free Days - Jan 20th-April 29th
  3. ‎Half Marathon - London March 31st
  4. Coffee Morning - April 2nd raised £235
  5. ‎Volunteer 10 times (ongoing)
  6. ‎Marathon - Newport April 29th
  7. ‎Playathon (10 hours continuous music - June)
  8. ‎Pub quiz/fundraising evening - May 30th - Bierkeller Cardiff
  9. ‎Muddy Run - Cancer Research Swansea July 21st
  10. ‎Hair cut (donate at least 12 inches to Little Princess Trust)

My challenge to volunteer 10 times led to me joining a running club called Good Gym, who run to help out community groups with tasks such as litter picking, gardening and painting, focusing on the mantra of Do Good, Get Fit. With their support I was not only able to start my volunteering challenge, but also they helped me gain the confidence and running ability to tick off another challenge – to run a half marathon. Despite the snow trying to disrupt my efforts, RunThrough provided an alternative date and so on March 31st I arrived at the Lee Valley Velo-Park to run the furthest distance I’d ever attempted. After 13.1 miles I made it over the finish line to the awaiting medal and delicious flapjack!

My training is now continuing ready for the Newport Marathon at the end of April, which for someone who couldn’t have run a mile less than a year ago is a pretty surprising position to be in! My new found running hobby has also had the added benefit of helping me achieve my dream job in the Police as a member of the Police Now graduate scheme, leaving me with little worries about passing my fitness test!

My main hope with my challenges is that I can show children who are currently facing cancer, and their families, that there is light at the end of the tunnel and you can achieve whatever you want to in the future.

If you want to keep up to date with my progress you can check out what I’m up to HERE 

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