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Trust fundraiser set for London to Lisbon ultra-marathon

For many of us, the idea of getting up to take part in the local Parkrun fills us with dread against the prospect of a Saturday morning lie in. But for Trust fundraiser, Naomi, she’s taking Parkrun, multiplying it by a few hundred and taking it across Europe and has set off on an epic 1700KM run from London to Lisbon to raise money for our cancer services.

Maidstone born and bred Naomi takes on the solo challenge after her father’s continued care at MTW following a diagnosis for prostate cancer. The 38-year-old is hoping to hit her target of £10,000 to help fund additional cancer diagnostics equipment.

The run, which Naomi hopes to finish by November, will involve battling high temperatures, border crossing and some tough terrain – so we thought it would be a good idea to find out a little more…

Have you ever done anything like this before and where did you get the idea for this challenge?

In 2019, after living in Vietnam for 4 years I wanted to give something back to the country and I decided to run from Hanoi-HCMC – almost the length of the country! I ran in aid of education and anti-trafficking charities and helped to enhance the lives of many children and women across the country. I have always been into fitness but had never run more than a half marathon before attempting my Vietnam challenge – fortunately, I’m a lot more prepared this time around! My dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in January 2021, which was during a very strict lockdown in Vietnam, the borders were closed and I was unable to come home for a visit for almost 2 years. Eventually I was able to get back while he was receiving chemotherapy and the idea of my next fundraising challenge begun to form.

What’s the challenge?

I’m setting off from Greenwich Park in London on Saturday 13 August and will be running 1700KM to Lisbon. Everything I need will be in a rucksack on my back the whole way and I’ll be staying overnight in hostels and making the use of friends and family as much as I can along the way!

What do you think will be your biggest challenge on your journey?

 My biggest challenge will be structuring my day so that I do not have too much downtime in the evenings. In my previous challenge, these were the times that homesickness could raise its head. To complete the challenge, I’ll need to do an average of 25KM a day so keeping to a strict regime is important. I know that if I keep to a strict structure of run, eat, wash clothes, route plan and blogging/posting on social media it will all be OK! I treat my challenges like a job and the routine is really important for my focus.

Why is it important for you to raise funds for MTW?

It is important for me to raise funds for MTW as they have been the constant in my Dad’s care from the start. As well as medical treatment he has been offered a variety of holistic support. He is on the road to recovery and I thank MTW for everything they have done for him. My nan was also treated at Maidstone for breast cancer many years ago so I am excited to be able to contribute to MTW as it has given us so much and I now get the opportunity to say thank you.

What will keep you going during the 1700km journey?

When times get tough on my run, I know that they will never be as tough as they are for the patients going through treatment or the families that are supporting them. Seeing donations on my Just Giving page spur me on as well as the kindness of strangers that I meet along the way.

What would you say to the MTW staff who helped care for your father and why should people donate?

I would say ‘thank you for giving me my dad back’. He had a tough time during his treatment but now we are back playing table tennis and watching sport together! People should donate because sadly most people have a link to cancer. Together we can make a difference and change the lives of many.