This year I’ve vowed to run the Birmingham Half Marathon for the QEHB Charity. I’ll admit there is an alterior motive – the money is specifically for a fund of the Charity that supports local research on Cancer Immunology, linked to a research grouping I lead called the Cancer Immunology and Immunotherapy Centre, or the CIIC for short (pronounced as in KICK). And it’s important I raise more funds, as I know we can make a little money go a long way. Every penny counts.
I always hated running at School – and still find it tough now I’m 40. Let’s just say my first practice runs were less than impressive. When I was running behind someone, my breathing was so heavy they would turn round expecting to see an 80 year old man, and have a look of surprise when they saw me. However, I’m persevering with the training and now am up to about 6 mile runs without so much heavy breathing, averaging a bit more than 8 minutes per mile when things go well. For me that’s good. And I’ve actually stopped my middle aged spread, and lost just under a stone.
It sounds corny but I’ve also discovered more about myself. One thing I found out is I always want to beat my previous personal best time per mile – which means every run is quite physically uncomfortable ! I’m trying to curb this tendency – my running “doula” Fiyaz Mohammed (who works in my lab) tells me you can’t always run a personal best every time – however always wanting to push yourself is a useful trait for research and life – so I won’t be too hard on myself for that. And in fact I think running is an interesting analogy for life, and given my running abilities, for fighting to achieve things.
Pleasingly, quite a few other members of the CIIC – in particular Professor Gary Middleton, Dr Graham Taylor, Dr Frank Mussai, and my running “doula” himself – Dr Fiyaz Mohammed have agreed to joined the struggle – and will also run the Half Marathon. Our aim ? To raise as much money for the QEHB Charity, to find new ways to use the immune system to fight cancer.
On a personal level, I have two wishes. The first is practical: I would like to be fit enough to actually enjoy the day and get around the course ok. The second is symbolic – I would like to run the whole course without stopping. Over the years I have known several people who have died of cancer. It can be a very cruel disease. And I know they never stopped fighting. I owe it to them to not stop running. So, for Jill Recowicz, Esther Recowicz, Toby Falk, Niamh Silk, and, still fighting myeloma, Nat Smith…all I can say is I’ll give it my very best shot.
Please support Professor Ben Willcox who is part of TeamCIIC, running the Birmingham Half Marathon for QEHB Charity to help support Cancer Immunology research. Click here to access Prof Ben’s Just Giving page, or here for the JustGiving TeamCIIC page.
Follow Prof Ben (@ProfBenW) and the CIIC grouping (@CIIC_UoB) on Twitter.