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WHEN a marathon really starts to hurt and when it becomes about spirit as much as strength, Robert Hegarty knows exactly how to summon up the courage to cross the finishing line.

The 42-year-old, who is running his third marathon in London, only has to cast his mind back to his own family, and their shattering losses, to find the stamina needed to complete the 26.2-mile London course and help Worldwide Cancer Research at the same time.

Robert lost his sister, Rebecca, aged just 47 to cervical cancer before, tragically, his father Martin also died of cancer six months later.
As one of six children, Robert and his family are close and the loss of his sister and dad affected him deeply.

And he knows, more than anything else, that they will be at the front of his mind as he looks to raise more money to assist Worldwide Cancer Research in their efforts to combat the disease.

"My sister passed away from cervical cancer and it was Stage Four by the time they had found it," he said.

"She had a long fight but she passed and then my dad passed six months after that with a very rare form of cancer. They didn't know what it was at first and by the time they found it, it was too advanced.
"When I'm out training, thinking of those two helps quite a lot. I think about them and it reminds me why I'm doing it.

“On a long training run, I think about lots of things but especially those two. I miss them a lot and my sister left behind two daughters and it keeps you putting one foot in front of the other.
"On the day itself, the crowd takes you through towards the end but before that, when the pain begins, I'll be thinking of dad and my sister."

Robert, from Letchworth, Hertfordshire, ran the Great Wall of China Marathon in 2017 and the New York Marathon two years earlier so is something of a veteran of this gruelling distance.

He had no hesitation in signing up to run it on behalf of Worldwide Cancer Research and is urging anybody caught in two minds about following in his footsteps to take the plunge and get involved.

"At first you think, 'How am I going to be able to run 10 miles, never mind a marathon,'" he said.
"But 10 miles becomes 12 and then 15 and so on and you're away then. I would say, sign up, put it online and then that's your motivation. Let people know you're doing it and that really focuses you. I find the hardest thing is the morning runs when you make any excuses but once you get outside the front door, you soon get into it. “You will not regret it, especially for a cause as worthwhile as fighting cancer.”

If you’ve been inspired by Robert’s story and would love to be part of Team Worldwide, check out our list of fantastic events suitable for everyone! And if you would like to donate in support of the incredible work Worldwide Cancer Research funds, please click here.

Communications Manager

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