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Cancer battles of family and friends will spur on Wallasey family running London Marathon for NWCR

1 month ago

Cancer battles of family and friends will spur on Wallasey family running London Marathon for NWCR

Wirral mum-of-three Julie Woolley smiles as she thinks about crossing the finishing line of the London Marathon on April 21…

“I saw someone on Instagram being asked what their main marathon aim was, and it goes to a clip of the Bee Gees singing Staying Alive,” she says. “It is a mammoth task and it’s mentally, as well as physically, very tiring.”

But thoughts of family and friends who’ve survived cancer or she’s lost because of it will keep Julie going – along with the two family members who’ll be tackling the epic 26.2 miles with her!

Julie, 50, from Wallasey, is running the marathon with husband Alan, 48, and 22-year-old daughter Katrina. And she says:

“Achieving something like this, and doing it together as a family, will be really special.

“A lot of people have been surprised when we’ve said we’re all taking part, so it’s going to be a very proud moment for each of us.”

Julie, Alan and Katrina are all running for Liverpool-based North West Cancer Research which focuses on cancers which are more common to the Merseyside and North West area, and targets the work it does on those.

Since 2000 it’s funded £45 million of world-class research with more than 50 active research projects being carried out at any one time – something Julie, an events assistant for the charity for the last 10 years, is delighted to be supporting.

But it’s the cancer battles of those close to them which has inspired their efforts just as much.

Alan’s mum Mary was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2015 and 2017 and underwent two operations and a course of chemotherapy before being given the all-clear.

Sadly, though, they also lost a close friend, Ann Dalziel, 66, to cancer last year, and know others who’ve been affected by it.

Julie says: “It’s always been in the back of my mind to do a marathon, but I never thought I could do it. I have done two half-marathons but I’ve never gone that far.

“But after what happened with Ann, and being 50 this year, I wanted to set myself a challenge while I still had the opportunity to do it. 

“I think too often we think about things we might do but make the mistake of putting them off. Then, like for Ann, the chances of doing them are taken away from you.

“I wanted to push myself in the hope that the funds I raise, and that Alan and Katrina raise, will help prevent other families experiencing loss from this awful disease.”

Alan adds:

“We all have been, or will be, impacted by cancer in our lifetime and seeing family and friends battle the disease is heartbreaking. My own mum is a cancer survivor thanks to critical research and development – the likes of which are funded by North West Cancer Research.”

The family were already quite active and regularly go on Saturday morning jogs together, along with other daughter, Kyra, 25. 

But stepping up their training to include three or four weekly runs, the latest of which was 16 miles, has been hard.

“In terms of training it has been a bit of a shock,” admits Julie, who with Alan has another daughter Anya, 20. “But we’re following a training app that Katrina has downloaded which has helped.

“It’s also helped being family – it might have been different if we’d been with a running club.  But we’re possibly a bit tougher on each other and, certainly, I need Alan to chivvie me up a bit when it’s a Saturday morning and it’s raining and even the effort of getting ready is too much.  

“He says ‘come on, we’re doing this’, and we do.”

Julie and Alan are hoping to complete the run in around five and a half hours, with Katrina aiming for a faster time.

“Katrina will run on her own while Alan has promised he’ll stay with me. Then hopefully Katrina will be waiting for us at the finishing line – and she’ll have had chance to get to the shop for snacks!”

The three runners are well on their way to reaching a combined target of £6,000 – with Julie alone already reaching more than £1,600.

And, along with their vital sponsorship funds, their training is on track to see them all pass the finishing line to collect their medals.

“It will be a battle but it’s one I’m determined to win,” vows Julie. “Even if I have to crawl over the finishing line.

“There are people here today who wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t for that ground-breaking research or the awareness North West Cancer Research has raised. 

“To be helping and supporting that, with my family, will be incredible.”

You can donate to their pages here.

Find all the latest Liverpool news here.

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