Joanna Wright and her brother Richard Rawlings took part in the Great North Run in 2017, raising a fantastic £1,977. The pair originally signed up for the 2016 event, but as their father passed away only a few days before the run, they decided to defer their entry until 2017.
Why do you support Beating Bowel Cancer?
Dad was originally diagnosed and treated in 2012, but his cancer returned in 2015 having spread to his liver and lungs. This was devastating news to our family, but as the fog cleared during the next few days, I thought I’d like to do some fundraising for a bowel cancer charity. I found Beating Bowel Cancer and I liked the fact that it was a small charity, with a focus on offering support to people affected by the disease. Having had a chat with a member of the events team, I decided to take part in the Great North Run to raise awareness. Richard joined me soon after.
My dad loved the Newcastle and Northumberland area, and the plan was to go to the run together as a family. Sadly dad passed away just a few days before the event, so we decided to do it in 2017 instead.
How was the Great North Run for you?
The atmosphere before the event was fantastic, there was such excitement in the air as we walked to the starting point. The enormity of the event really struck me: you’re part of a big crowd of people who want to raise money for charity or are running in memory of someone they’ve lost, it’s quite emotional.
I had a terrible cramp around mile 8 and struggled the last few miles. The last 800 metres were in sight but I’d had to stop for a rest because I was in such bad pain. A fellow runner stopped and spurred me on, telling me: ‘You can do it!’ That kept me going.
How did you feel afterwards?
After the run finished, I just thought of my dad. I was exhausted and in pain, and even the thought of walking back to the car felt like too much. I did feel a sense of achievement and pride in myself too, because I’d really had to push myself.
How did you feel after raising such an amazing amount of money?
It makes you feel that people care. I arranged a cake sale during the summer and people came throughout the day – my dad was able to attend it too, which made it really special. Even when it was really hard and I knew he was going to pass away, I just felt that I had to make something good out of it and make people more aware of bowel cancer. My main goal during fundraising was to raise awareness and to encourage people to always take the FOB test.
What’s next for you?
I’m taking part in the London Marathon in 2018 for Katharine House Hospice, where dad received excellent care towards the end of his life.
If you want to sign up for the Great North Run in 2018, click here.