London Marathon 2016: Hitchin, Letchworth and Baldock runners on why they’re taking on the 26.2-mile challenge

Richard Kell will be running the London Marathon dressed as a gingerbread man.

Richard Kell will be running the London Marathon dressed as a gingerbread man. - Credit: Archant

A gingerbread man from Letchworth, a Comet journalist and a Hitchin dance school owner are among those taking on tomorrow’s London Marathon. Below the trio, along with many other North Herts natives, share their stories.

Carla Pilsworth of Hitchin will be running the London Marathon this weekend for Tommy's, a charity t

Carla Pilsworth of Hitchin will be running the London Marathon this weekend for Tommy's, a charity that funds pregnancy research. - Credit: Archant

• Hitchin runner Carla Pilsworth originally set a target of raising £2,000 for Tommy’s, the charity which funds pregnancy research, in memory of her baby daughter Daisy – but her total now stands at more than £7,000.

The cause is one close to Carla’s heart, as she has either been pregnant, trying to get pregnant or trying to get over being pregnant since 2011 – and Tommy’s has given her great support along the way.

“Giving in is not in my make-up,” said Carla, whose pink running top is emblazoned with Daisy’s name as well as her own.

“If I want something I will do all I can to get it. I don’t intend on giving up on our dream of having a family, but I do want to do something positive following the heartbreak we’ve endured.


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“Daisy would have celebrated her fifth birthday in February. I cannot think of a better way for me to mark this anniversary and do something in her memory.”

Hayley Benham is running the London Marathon for the Lymphoma Association.

Hayley Benham is running the London Marathon for the Lymphoma Association. - Credit: Archant

To sponsor Carla, visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CarlaPilsworth.

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• Cancer survivor Hayley Benham, 30, from Baldock, is set to raise £1,800 for the Lymphoma Association.

Hayley said: “I was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s lymphoma in January 2009. After nine months of chemotherapy I have been in remission since September 2009 and received my five-year clear in 2014.

“I am going to be running the marathon in a team of four for the charity, and we have a target of £7,200 – £1,800 each.

“This is a first for all of us. The furthest I had run at the start of training was 10km.

Richard Kell after completing the Enduroman 100-mile ultra marathon.

Richard Kell after completing the Enduroman 100-mile ultra marathon. - Credit: Archant

“This is going to be an enormous challenge for me and I take no shame in saying my mission will be just to complete it.

“Having suffered from lymphoma myself, this is a cause close to my heart.”

To sponsor Hayley and her team, visit www.justgiving.com/LAfundraisingteam-LondonMarathon2016.

• Letchworth-based Marathon specialist Richard Kell – who has raised more than £30,000 for Help for Heroes over the years – is bidding to break the Guinness World Record for fastest runner in a gingerbread outfit.

This will be Richard’s second attempt to snatch a world record having narrowly missed out on becoming the quickest person to complete a marathon dressed as a boxer last year.

Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood - Credit: Archant

The 45-year-old’s previous running feats have included an Only Fools and Heroes themed 300 mile run from Peckham to Land’s End in full Batman kit while pushing a ‘Robin Reliant’ buggy and a soapathon challenge between the sets of EastEnders, Emmerdale, Coronation Street, and Hollyoaks.

Richard who is praying for a cool and dry day, said: “Once again I will be supporting Help for Heroes, an amazing charity that continues to help those wounded serving our country.

“The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq may be over, but for those who have returned with life changing injuries the fight will go on for many years.”

To sponsor Richard search for Midas Marathon at www.justgiving.com.

• A leading specialist in the field of digestive diseases was so moved by the devastating effects of pancreatic cancer she decided to run to raise money and awareness on the killer affliction.

Hayley Syme

Hayley Syme - Credit: Archant

Gastroenterology and hepatology expert Natalie Wood, from Perinwinkle Lane in Hitchin, was so determined to raise the profile of the work of Pancreatic Cancer UK she signed up to run the gruelling 26.2 miles.

Keen runner Natalie said: “Pancreatic cancer is particularly cruel and devastating disease. Steve Jobs and Patrick Swayze died from it but there isn’t much awareness on the topic itself.

“As with all cancers, early diagnosis is the key but all too often diagnosis comes at such a late stage prognosis is poor.”

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/Natalie-Wood06

• A Hitchin dance school owner who previously appeared as a cheerleader at Lords for the Middlesex Panthers T20 cricket team is running to raise funds for a hospital that saved her father’s life.

Comet journalist Layth Yousif and brother-in-law Harry Mason will be running the London Marathon

Comet journalist Layth Yousif and brother-in-law Harry Mason will be running the London Marathon - Credit: Archant

Ambition Dance Academy principal Hayley Syme is tackling the distance for the Royal Brompton and Harefield Hospitals Charity after her father had a double lung transplant at the hospital.

She said: “Dad spent two months in hospital over Christmas and New Year 2012.

“It was a strange time, but the care he received from everyone at the hospital was incredible – so I decided to run to raise money for them.

“I may dance but I don’t run so it’s going to be tough!

“I would add if you’re not a registered organ donor – why not? Be the difference made to family just like mine.”

To support Hayley, head to http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Haylsibub or search for her name on the home page.

• Harry Mason from Letchworth is running to honour the memory of his sister Anne Aurousseau, who died after a rare form of cancer at the age of just 37 – leaving behind three children.

Harry, 24, from Archers Way, will be pounding the streets of London to raise money for the head and neck cancer charity Get-A-Head.

He said: “Anne had a genuine care for people which was expressed through the love she freely and constantly gave.

“She genuinely looked out for people.

“Although she’s not here in the physical sense, I know that she is here in spirit.

“Anne was very keen on research and beating cancer which is why my chosen charity is the Get-A-Head charitable trust.”

Harry’s mum, Pauline Mason added: “I’m so proud of my son.”

• The Comet’s Layth Yousif, who is Harry’s brother-in-law and lives in Hitchin, is running for the same cause.

He said: “It’s going to be tough, but I’ll crawl round if I have to for Anne to get that medal and earn my sponsorship which so many people have kindly helped contribute to.”

Visit the uk.virginmoneygiving.com website to support them, searching by their names.

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