On Sunday 21st April a team of six colleagues from the XL London office will be running 26.2 miles in the London Marathon! In addition, the week before, one of the team will also run in the Brighton Marathon. Here's James Martin to tell us why they're raising money for Nicki's Smile and Pancreatic Cancer UK, and how their preparations are going...
Team XL - left to right; Jack Morris, Claire Paternoster, Teresa Ngeow, Philip Hogg, James Martin and James Benn
The team has come together from all different parts of the business - D&N, Environmental, IT, Ceded Re and CPO - and, hardly knowing each other before the team was formed, James Martin, Philip Hogg, Claire Paternoster, James Benn, Teresa Ngeow (our double marathoner!) and Jack Morris have all been training hard in preparation for the big day and, most importantly, have raised over £30,000 (US$45,000) for our UK Charity of the Year, Nicki's Smile, which is a fund of Pancreatic Cancer UK.
Teresa is running her 5th and 6th marathons, and Claire has run it once before, over 25 years ago! This will be the first time the rest of us have attempted it, and regardless of our experience we are all nervous and excited about the challenge ahead. The training has been tough through the winter months, especially with the seemingly endless cold weather, wind, rain and snow, and we have all suffered various injuries and general aches and pains, however we are almost there now and are all looking forward to the day. Of course we are also looking forward to afterwards, being able to drink alcohol and eat take-aways again and above all getting our Sunday mornings back!
Each member of the team has their own personal reasons for wanting to run the London Marathon - whether it's ticking something off a bucket list or proving our spouses wrong - and also their own reasons for wanting to support Nicki's Smile. As we have each learnt more about the charity and about pancreatic cancer we have become more motivated to raise funds for research into early diagnosis techniques and help improve the survival statistics. This is an especially close subject for James, Claire and Teresa who have all lost close family or friends to pancreatic cancer.
Nicki's Smile was set up in memory of Nicki Blake who lost her two-year battle against the disease in November 2010, aged just 33. She left behind her husband Dan and 3-year-old son Joshua, having been diagnosed twenty months earlier. Tragically the cancer had already spread from the pancreas to her liver and bones and it was therefore inoperable.
Over a year before diagnosis Nicki had been to hospital with severe back and abdominal pain but the potential warning signs were missed and she was sent home. Had the doctors identified the cancer at that time Nicki may well have survived, but when it was finally diagnosed it was too late.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most lethal cancers in the UK. Over 8,350 people in the UK are diagnosed every year. Of these, fewer than 20% survive more than 12 months and less than 4% live for more than 5 years. Despite these horrifying statistics pancreatic cancer research remains chronically under-funded and there's a real problem with diagnosing the disease in time for effective treatment.
The team has been overwhelmed by the support we have received from friends, brokers, clients and colleagues around the world and we want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored us.
Fancy getting a team together from your workplace to take part in your own running challenge? Head to our fundraising events pages to sign up!