THE father and brother of 10-year-old brain tumour victim Robbie Keville have completed an epic 10 marathons in 10 days for ‘robbiesrally’ - a charity started by Edgeborough School pupil Robbie before his death in February 2016, aiming to provide care, support and rehabilitation for children with brain tumours around the UK.
Mark and Harry Keville had “a positive, yet exhausting (especially for the calves!)”, experience as they ran marathons over main roads, country tracks and pebbled beaches between the 10 ‘shared-care’ hospitals within the Wessex NHS region - completing the ‘robbiesregionrun’ challenge on Monday, August 28.
The father and son marathon duo were overwhelmed by and grateful for the support of family and friends, many of whom joined them by foot, bicycle or horse-back for parts of the route, including cousin Alex Hobson, a heart surgeon, running in his uniform with a stethoscope for six miles.
Day one begun in Jersey, joined by 20 members of the Jersey Joggers and day 10 finished with a group of 37 runners in Southampton, including two seasoned athletes stepping up the pace.
Mark and Harry gave presentations about the charity and its achievements to-date at several hospitals along the way. They also met a young boy Jack, on day 10, who had already benefited from the work of the charity through its ‘robbiesrehab’ service, based at Southampton General Hospital.
There were plenty of highs and lows along the way. On day four the duo blogged that they “couldn’t think of a more enjoyable run”, but by day six they found the going somewhat tougher as Mark and Harry battled fast traffic and numerous hills.
“The fatigue soon sets in and begins to eat you slowly from the balls of the feet upwards,” Mark described in his ‘robbiesregionrun’ blog.
On the whole, thanks to the support and running at a slow pace, the runners remained strong and positive throughout the challenge - even upon reaching their final day, which coincided with the hottest bank holiday on record.
Highlights of Mark and Harry’s challenge will be broadcast this October, during Channel 4’s ‘Stand Up to Cancer’ evening as a follow-up to Mark’s emotional appearance on the telethon last year.
Fundraising for the ‘robbiesregionrun’ has already exceeded Mark and Harry’s target of £25,000 - adding to the £260,000-plus already raised by the charity - and donations are still encouraged online at ‘robbiesrally.wordpress.com/donate/.
These funds “have already benefited local patients and will be invaluable…in the future”, stated Poole Hospital’s Martin Hussey, a paediatric associate specialist, who met the runners during their challenge.