IN just two days, nearly 40,000 people will pound the streets of the capital for the 2014 London Marathon. Alex Wynick talks to people from Oxfordshire who are set to take part – and raise as much money as they can for their chosen good causes
BETH REEVES - Anthony Nolan
THREE years after her father-in-law had a bone marrow transplant, Beth Reeves will be running the London Marathon to help the organisation that saved his life.
Cholsey resident Mrs Reeves, 37, is raising cash for charity Anthony Nolan, which matches stem cells and bone marrow donors to people with blood cancer and blood disorders.
Her father-in-law Tony Reeves, 69, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in 2010. Thanks to Anthony Nolan, Mr Reeve found a match with an unknown donor, whose bone marrow was the key weapon in his victory over cancer.
Mum-of-two Mrs Reeves said: “It costs over £100 to put someone into the register.
“It’s not only important to raise awareness so that more people sign up, but also to fund the work that they do.
“They give people a second chance at life.”
Mrs Reeves, who works as a manager with Thames Water, said: “Watching it on television, it always gets me right in the heart. It’s really emotional.
“This is a really good opportunity to do something I have always wanted to do and give something back to the charity.”
Mrs Reeves aims to raise £1,850, and is well on her way, having collected more than £1,200.
STUART HARPER & PAUL WILSON - SeeAbility
ONE ill-timed photograph led to two colleagues taking on this weekend’s marathon.
Paul Wilson and Stuart Harper from Abingdon-based IT reseller Open Reality will be pounding the streets of London on Sunday.
Paul Wilson, left, and Stuart Harper
Their director, Andy Grover, accidentally confirmed their spots at a charity auction when he decided to take a photograph of the table at the charity ball.
While lifting the camera, the auctioneer mistook his actions for a bid and he scooped the prize, to run for charity SeeAbility, who support people with disabilities, including visual impairment.
Sales director Mr Wilson, 38, said: “Never did I imagine that I would run a full marathon, especially not the reputedly toughest marathon course in the world.
“Ultimately our goal is to raise as much money as we can for SeeAbility.”
Mr Harper, 31 said: “They have been one of our customers for many years. We agree with what they do, and we see the hard work they do. It was a no-brainer, really.”
The pair are trying to raise £1,400, and are hoping to run the course in under five hours.
Mr Harper, from Brackley, said: “We’re not doing too bad, we’ve raised just under £1,000.
“Most people are dubious that I’ll manage it, but I’m quietly confident.”
For Mr Harper, Sunday will be extra-special. He said: “It’s my birthday as well, so it’ll be a great present when I cross the line.”
EILEEN NAUGHTON - Children with Cancer
THOUSANDS run the London Marathon each year, but Didcot’s Eileen Naughton will soon have run seven.
For the past six years she has run to support Children With Cancer, which funds research and supports families affected by cancer.
Miss Naughton, who works in medical records at Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, said: “A lot of people can't do it, and working in the hospital you see a lot of people who are so sick, and it’s just lovely to be able to pull on your trainers and raise money for people.”
She said: “Eight years ago, when I was 22, I wanted to give blood in Didcot, and they found that my red blood cell count was really low.
“I was rushed to the JR and had to have treatment there, and I was on the same ward as children with cancer.
“I saw how bad it was for them and their families.”
She said: “In total I think I’ve raised over £15,000.”
The Wessex Road resident said: “I did three hours and 40 minutes in the Abingdon Marathon, and I’m looking to do a bit better here.
“I usually go off a bit too quick and then I start to get tired towards the middle, before picking up again at the end.
“This time I’m going to stick with the pacers, at eight minutes a mile, so hopefully I can do it in three and a half hours.”
But she added: “It’s not about getting a good time, it’s about having a good time.”
To support Miss Naughton
WENDY FOSTER - PCP Housing
ALSO pounding the streets of London will be Wendy Foster, 46, of Launton, who is running her second London Marathon.
Miss Foster is raising cash for charity PCP Housing (Perry Clayman Project), which provides support for people overcoming an addiction.
She said “keeping motivated” had been her toughest challenge, but she has been given a boost by local schoolchildren.
Miss Foster, who runs her own grant finding and fundraising consultancy business called Pot of Gold Consultancy, said: “Recently Launton Primary school pupils have come to the rescue after I went into their assembly and talked to them about the marathon. They were so interested and supportive and now wave at me and shout ’Come on Wendy’ when they see me running around the streets.”
To support Miss Foster
JUDE BARBER & ANNA READING - Breast Cancer Campaign
AS TWO Bicester women step across the finishing line of Sunday’s London Marathon their thoughts will be of one person.
Fitness instructor Jude Barber, 50, and Anna Reading, 34, are running the 26 miles around the capital to raise cash for Breast Cancer Campaign in memory of Bethan Reading.
Mother-of-one Dr Reading died in January last year aged 34.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2010, and was given the all-clear in 2011 but it returned and spread to her lungs and brain.
Her sister Anna and friends set up a fundraising group called Beth’s Pink Ladies and have so far raised more than £23,000 in her name.
Anna Reading, left, and Jude Barber
Office manager Anna, of Forge Place, Fritwell, hopes to add to that total.
She said: “Jude and I decided to enter the marathon as not only was it a personal goal for each of us and a great way of raising some money, it was also something that Beth had always wanted to do.
“Training has gone OK, it has been much more involved than we could’ve imagined and it has often been difficult what with children, jobs and decidedly nasty weather, but we clocked the miles up each week.
“I think we will both be keeping Bethan in our minds to get us over the finish line.
“Jude and I both ran with Beth when she was alive and I think if she was here she would, without a doubt, be running with us.”
To donate to Mrs Reading and Mrs Barber
GILL BEGNOR - Cancer Research UK
RUNNING a marathon is hard enough but Gill Begnor is going to try to run it while wearing a 20lb backpack.
The Hook Norton mum is attempting to set the first Guinness World Record for the feat on Sunday.
She said: “The record people have set me a time I have to beat, because otherwise I could just take a week and still get the record.”
Mrs Begnor, 48, is trying to run the course in five and a half hours, with sandbags weighing down her backpack.
But it won’t be easy. She said: “My training has been up and down, 20lb is really very, very heavy.
“I hadn’t really understood how much of a difference it would make.”
Mrs Begnor, a software programme manager, said the motivation to take on new records is to raise more money.
She added: “You have to find something a bit different to do to challenge yourself more.
“It makes it better for fundraising if you’re doing something a bit different.”
She is aiming to raise £2,000 for Cancer Research UK.
She said: “There’s usually a big push just before the race, and the week after.
“Many of my close friends have been affected by cancer, including two of my best friends who lost parents to the disease in the last few years.
“Struggling around the marathon is nothing compared to what so many people have to endure.
“I’ll have five and a half hours of misery, but they have months, or years.”
SIMON BARRETT - The Mulberry Bush School
HAVING completed the London Marathon last year, Simon Barrett swore he would never do it again.
But he will be hitting the streets this Sunday as he raises money for The Mulberry Bush School.
The school, in Standlake near Witney, provides therapy and support for traumatised children.
Car salesman Mr Barrett said: “I did my first marathon last year, and I promised I’d never do it again. It was so painful and horrific.
“Then 18 months ago my fiancee Vicki Kenyon started working at The Mulberry Bush School as a therapeutic care worker.”
Mr Barrett, 39, said: “I see the work that they do. The kids are so vulnerable and they need to be rehabilitated into a normal family life.
“I see my 10-year-old son Theo and I think about how those kids have been brought up, and it gets me.
“They haven’t got the life my boy has and it touches my heart.”
Mr Barrett aims to raise £2,000. He said: “I’ve raised just over £1,000, but if I get to £1,500 I’ll be really, really happy.”
Mr Barrett said experience has not made the London Marathon any less daunting: “It’s really hard work, a lot harder than the first time.
“Now my brain knows what I’m getting in for and it’s harder to motivate, even when my legs want to carry on.
“I’m definitely not doing another one after this.
“Getting up at 5.30am and training is not fun.”