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The British summertime has been a scorcher this year, with the majority of us enjoying the outdoors and more than just the odd ice cream! But not everyone has been relaxing in the sunshine, some people have still been working hard whatever the weather to raise money for charities and encourage others to donate to their cause.

We spoke with Joanne Platt, Regional Business Development Executive from The Jockey Club who works at Aintree Racecourse and Haydock Park Racecourse, and who has been setting herself numerous targets since the start of 2017 from marathons to bike rides. So what has motivated her to face different races, marathons and mountains?

"9 years ago my dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer and has been under the care of the Christie Cancer Hospital ever since. He was told he wouldn’t reach his 60th birthday. Thanks to the Christie Hospital and my dad’s determination and positive thinking, we celebrated his 60th birthday in May 2016. We had a birthday party with friends and family, and instead of gifts, we asked for donations for this fantastic cause, raising over £700.00 for the Christie.

In 2017 I decided to spend the year completing a series of challenges. Each month I participated in an event, from 10k races to bike rides and walks. The furthest I’d ever ran was 10k, however I decided that if I was going to do it properly I needed to give myself a serious challenge and decided to enter the London Marathon 2018. After submitting my application, I had to wait 5 months to find out whether I had been chosen, so I knew I had to keep up the training. I took on the Yorkshire Three Peaks – 25 miles in 12 hours! – and then threw in a 50 mile bike ride with only 3 weeks training on my birthday weekend, and took part in my first half-marathon in August.

October arrived and I found out I had a place in the London Marathon 2018 running for the Christie, and I was totally overwhelmed with both excitement and fear. My challenges then took me abroad and I took part in the Palma 10k! What an experience and challenge with the heat – little did I know that this would prepare me for what was to be the hottest London Marathon on record 7 months later. My final race of the year was the Pennington Festive Flash 5 miler, running knee deep in mud! I then had a few weeks’ rest before it was time to start training again, starting on the 30th December, leaving the house at 7:30am on a cold and wet Saturday morning whilst everyone else was in bed asleep. We then had ice and snow, and whilst running along the Leeds Liverpool Canal with the IHL team in Wigan, I slipped and fell, narrowly avoiding the canal! I didn’t realise my injuries until we returned to the life centre in Wigan and my knees were black and blue. I had no choice but to take two weeks out to rest. This was one of the hardest things to experience as I just wanted to get outside and train.

Above all of this, the most challenging experience was the London Marathon. When I entered the ballot, the furthest I had ran was 10K, which is approximately 50-60 minutes running time. The London Marathon was 4 ½ times this distance, which meant I had to train both my body and my mind not to start too quickly, but also not to run too slow. During my training, I went on an 18 mile run, and at 16 miles thought I couldn’t go any further. If anyone had seen me that day, they may have wondered whether I was okay – I was talking and singing to myself just to keep my feet going. The biggest motivation of all was the fact that I knew that by completing the marathon I would be raising not only funds but awareness for the Christie Cancer Charity. This made all of the aches and pains worthwhile and kept me going. 2 days prior to leaving for London, we received the news we didn’t want to hear. My dad’s cancer had spread to his oesophagus. His consultant wanted to admit him to hospital, however when my dad informed him he was going to be visiting London to support me running the London Marathon for the Christie, he told my dad to go and enjoy the weekend with the family supporting me during the marathon, and he would see him next week.

After my first ballot entry in 2017, I told myself I wouldn’t do it again. However, in April this year, I couldn’t resist, and entered the ballot again for the chance to run in the London Marathon 2019. When I look back, running the marathon was one of the most amazing and incredible things I have ever done in my life, so fingers crossed I get to do it again next year!

In total I have raised over £4,458 for the Christie, however in 2017, in my year of challenges, I raised a total of £3,340. I ran 304.96 miles, biked 172.65 miles and walked 52.20 miles. I have gone through 3 pairs of trainers and endless socks – they say you will get around 500 miles per pair of shoes, and whilst training for the London Marathon I used two pairs of trainers and alternated between them each week.

So far in 2018, I have ran 402.02 miles, biked 8.81 miles and walked 34.16 miles with more running, cycling and walking to follow! These figures include my training for the London Marathon 2019, as the ballot results are announced in October this year. My next challenge is the Wigan 10k on the 9th September, which is now in its 6th year, and is the first ever race I took part in that gave me the buzz to take up running. This year I have even got my family involved, with my eldest daughter taking part in several 5k runs.

The Christie Cancer Charity provides enhanced services to patients, over and above what the NHS is able to fund. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that the Christie is able to provide to their patients, like my dad, and their families. You can find out more information at the website: http://www.christie.nhs.uk/  

Venues can support charities in various ways, through having a nominated charity who they support throughout the year for any events they organise, and they can support their employees who take on any kind of challenge by making a donation that matches the amount they raise."

To donate to the Christie Cancer Charity via Joanne’s Just Giving page, please click the following link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/platt2018

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