The most famous marathon in the world, the Virgin Money London marathon has over 40,000 runners taking part and draws crowds of an estimated 750,000 to the streets of the capital.

This year, Bowel & Cancer Research has 17 amazing fundraisers running the London Marathon to help raise money to fund research and help us fight bowel cancer and bowel diseases.

Each of our runners has a personal link to the work we do. Read on to find out more about some of our inspirational runners!

Pat Casey

Running the London Marathon wasn’t on the agenda for Pat Casey – but then one of his close friends lost his battle against bowel cancer. Now Pat is in training for the biggest sporting challenge of his life and will be running on as a tribute to his colleague and friend Nigel Swain.

“We sat next to each other for years,” said Pat, 43, from Essex. “A group of us from the office would go out for bowling evenings, drinks, meals – Nigel was always out at all of these. He was a really lovely bloke and a warm-hearted guy.”

In early 2018, Nigel was diagnosed with bowel cancer. After surgery, he learned that the cancer had spread to his stomach and lymph nodes. He died in May, aged 63, leaving a son, Richard.

“Even in hospital he did his best to keep upbeat and right to the end was reminiscing and laughing about the good old days at work and tours away with his cricket buddies,” said Pat.

“He kept working for as long as he could and just carried on being good ol’ Nige, doing what he could for people and asking for little or nothing in return.”

Losing Nigel was a wake-up call for Pat.

I wasn’t exercising, nor eating very well. I thought that if this could happen to Nigel, it could happen to me.

He began running with the couch-to-5k App in October and progressed to 10k and half-marathons.

“I thought I might as well have something to aim for and, if I could raise some money for a good cause, so much the better.

“I spoke to Nigel about doing the London Marathon for Bowel & Cancer Research when he was in hospital. At the time we were hoping he would be there to see me finish.  But I know he will be watching me on the way round with a pint of Guinness in his hand. I’ll certainly  have a pint and raise a glass to him at the end.

Read more and donate to Pat's page

Rachael Parrey

She has never run a marathon before, but when mum Rachael Parrey takes part in the London Marathon on April 28, she will be determined to cross the finish line.

Rachael lost her best friend to bowel cancer in February, and both of her grandparents have been hit by the same disease.

It was easy for me to choose to support Bowel & Cancer Research because of three people who matter so much. I want to help make sure no one has to go through what they have.

Her friend, Lisa, a mum with two children, was diagnosed in 2016 and died earlier this year, aged 40. “We were hoping that she would come through and we might have her for longer but that wasn’t the case,” said Rachael, from Thame.

The two met when they both worked at Waitrose as teenagers. “We became firm friends straight away and went through all life’s big events together. She was the best friend anyone could have,” said Rachael, who now runs her own business as a make-up artist.

Her nan Maureen Howard, was diagnosed in 2017 and had a succesful operation at the age of 89. Her grandad William Howard, is receiving palliative care for bowel cancer, aged 91.

Rachael started running seven years ago and has completed the Oxford half-marathon four times.

“I’ll be 40 this year and wanted to mark it in some way. I’ve watched the London marathon every year on the TV and thought it would be amazing to have a go. So this year I thought ‘why not?’.

“Before she died, Lisa knew I’d chosen to support Bowel & Cancer Research. So do my grandparents and they were all very chuffed.”

“I can’t say I’ve enjoyed every mile of training but I’m determined to finish. Lisa would absolutely be telling me to do this, and I won’t be giving up.”

Read more and donate to Rachael's page

Theresa Doherty

It’s tough losing your dad when you’re 18, but his memory will be very much alive when Theresa Doherty runs the London Marathon.

Now 44, Theresa was just 14 when her dad David Wilson was diagnosed with bowel cancer.  After several operations and periods of hope, he lost his battle against the disease four years later in 1992, aged 47.

Theresa, from Blandford in Dorset, took up running in 2013 to get fit. “I got bored at the gym so I joined the Runblandford running club which is great. There’s a good atmosphere and everyone is really supportive,” she said.

Six successive attempts to get a ballot place in the London Marathon failed. Then she was blessed with a Runblandford club place for 2019.

“It’s brilliant  - it means I can give something back and raise money for a good cause without any pressure. I plan to go out there and just do my best,” said Theresa.

Her support for Bowel & Cancer Research is not solely because of her dad.

In 2010 her mum, Deanna Seymour, was also diagnosed with bowel cancer. An operation to remove a tumour was successful but she is now battling lung cancer.

Cancer has affected our family over the years and is still affecting our family today. This is a fantastic charity to raise money for. Together we can fight cancer for the future.

Read more donate to Theresa's page

Claire Morris

What do you need to run the London Marathon? Grit, determination, stamina – or maybe Jelly Babies?

That’s what Claire Morris will rely on when she tackles the marathon. “Because I suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, I have to watch what I eat. I can’t use the powel gels that other runners use. But I’ll stick to Jelly Babies and hope they get me through,” said Claire, from Essex.

The 24-year-old took up running four years ago to keep fit. Her biggest running achievement so far is a half-marathon.

“I wanted a bit of a challenge and have always wanted to do the London Marathon. I was really pleased to get through on the ballot.”

Claire chose to support Bowel & Cancer Research because of her IBS.

“At first the doctors said I just had stomach cramps but after tests last year IBS was confirmed,” she said.  

I’d like to help make people more aware, not just of bowel cancer, but of the effect that other chronic bowel conditions have on people’s lives – things like IBS, Crohn’s disease and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. There’s no cure and none of the drugs to relieve the symptoms really work.

Read more and donate to Claire's page

Gemma Lucock

After a tough year on the health front, most people would sit on the sofa and relax - but not Gemma Lucock.

“I’m a pretty positive person. But I’d had more than 60 hospital appointments in a year and I needed something new to focus on both physically and mentally. Running a marathon will definitely do that!”

Gemma was diagnosed with a debilitating condition called Multiple Metaplastic Polyposis in the colon at the age of 19, ie, pre-cancerous cells in the bowel. It has meant having regular hospital check-ups, as well as watching her diet, doing regular exercise and taking lots of pain killers.

“It’s pretty scary being faced with the prospect of cancer at such a young age. But thanks to amazing doctors, I’ve been carefully monitored and looked after over the years,” she said.

She is also upfront about her health.

I used to think having an issue with my bowel was majorly embarrassing but now I embrace it – I’m always talking about my bottom, much to people’s disgust.

Her health took a turn for the worse in 2017 when she developed an auto-immune disease which affected her eyesight and was told that she has a hidden tumour.

“My life was taken over by medical appointments and hospitals. Now I’ve got running to think about. Hopefully I can finish the marathon – eating lots of Haribo on the way.”

Read more and donate to Gemma's page

Karen Woodford

Karen's father-in-law, Richard Woodford is receiving bowel cancer treatment. He is the reason Karen signed up for her first marathon and has chosen to support Bowel & Cancer Research.

“The training is quite tough and completing the marathon won’t be that easy but it’s nothing compared with what my father-in-law has gone through in the last few years,” said Karen, 40, from Sydenham, London.

Richard, 63, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2013 and went on to make a full recovery. Sadly, he was diagnosed again with secondary cancer in 2017.

“He is still fighting this battle but the scientific research being carried out has allowed him to see three of his sons get married and to meet his sixth grandchild,” said Karen.

Karen used to run as a teenager and tackling a marathon was always on her bucket list. Getting a ballot place for this year’s London event meant she was also free to choose her own charity.

It’s with great honour that I get to achieve this lifelong goal whilst running for such a great cause.

Read more and donate to Karen's page

Alex Price

When Alex runs the marathon, his T-shirt will say it all: 'This one's for you, dad.'

Alex lost his dad to bowel cancer when he was 23 and his dad John was just 51.

“After a bout of radiotherapy and an operation to remove his bowel, dad finally went into remission in 2010. Wow – we were all very happy.

“I have total admiration for my dad. When he was ill, there weren’t any complaints. His outlook was always positive, even when the rest of us couldn’t see the light.”

John surprised everyone by running the London Marathon in 2011 to celebrate his recovery and to run past St Thomas’s Hospital where he had spent much of the last two years.

“What an achievement – we were so proud,” said Alex. “His own dad had died of multiple sclerosis some time before and he wore a t-shirt saying ‘This one’s for you, dad’. That’s why having the same message on my t-shirt means such a lot.”

Sadly, John Price’s cancer returned – this time it had spread to his stomach and nothing more could be done.

Dad passed away seven months after running the marathon – that’s the harsh reality of what this disease can do.

"I like to think that dad would be immensely proud. He’d say don’t put too much pressure on yourself and enjoy it. So that’s what I intend to do.”

Read more and donate to Alex's page

Doug Braidwood

There’ll be no mistaking Doug – he’ll be running dressed as a giant poo.

He wants to stand out from the crowd to raise money for Bowel & Cancer Research as a tribute to a friend who is receiving treatment for bowel cancer.

His friend of 25 years, Sinead McKeown, 46, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018. She began treatment almost immediately, supported by an army of friends who rallied round to keep her company during chemotherapy.

I was shocked at how this can come seemingly from nowhere and turn things upside down 

“There’s not much you can do but offer moral support and running the marathon seemed a good way of doing that" said Doug.

"It’s a leap into the unknown. But if I can finish in four hours and raise a giggle, I’ll be happy,” he said.

“We're lucky to have access to great doctors and treatment and I’m raising money for bowel cancer research so that hopefully in the future we will be free from this disease.”

Read more and donate to Doug's page

Breda Pooke

Her knees and hips aren’t what they used to be, but nothing will stop 62-year-old Breda Pooke from completing the London Marathon.

“Some of you may think I’m nuts,” she said. “And cheese and wine is probably not the best training diet, but I am ready and raring to go.”

Breda, from Kent, applied for a ballot place after several friends and family members were affected by bowel cancer. Those loved ones were also the reason for her choosing to support Bowel & Cancer Research.

This is my first – and most likely my only – marathon. It’s probably the biggest challenge I have ever undertaken and I want to make it count.

Bowel & Cancer Research has done so much to support the families and lives of those who are affected by this awful disease and there is so much research still to be done,” said Breda, who worked for the NHS before she retired in 2012.

She has tackled half-marathons before and cycled the RideLondon 100 event in 2018 when the buzz of the crowd spurred her on.

“It’s scary, exciting and painful but I know I can complete this. I won’t be fast – the plan is to get over the finish line in under 5 hours and to soak up the atmosphere.”

Read more and donate to Breda's page

Good luck to all of our London Marathon runners!