Blackpool marathon marvel Mark Gray has amazing day in London

A Blackpool marathon marvel has taken 75 minutes off his London time in two years, while also losing five stone and raising thousands of pounds for charity.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 12:30 pm

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Mark Gray from Marton has beaten a rare form of cancer and Covid to complete the London Marathon three times, though the second of those was run ‘virtually’ around Stanley Park last year.

At this month’s London spectacular the 50-year-old ran 3hrs, 31mins, beating his 2019 time by an hour and a quarter.

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Mark Gray shows his delight on completing this month's London Marathon

Mark, who lives on Penrose Avenue, took up running in 2017 to lose weight after a cancer scare – a rare genetic cancer is inherent in his family and took the life of his father as well as a brother and a sister.

Weighing 17st at the time, Mark got involved with the all-abilities running club Blackpool Freedom Runners and has never looked back.

Using his marathon runs to raise funds to fight cancer, Mark wasn’t going to allow Covid to prevent him completing the virtual event last year, when the London race itself was restricted to elite athletes.

Mark takes up the story: “I got Covid right at the start and was in bed for 13 days. I ran 13 laps of Stanley Park and had lots of support but it was just amazing to be back in London this year.

“I trained hard for 16 weeks and got a lot of help from Blackpool Freedom Runners, who give up their own time to put on free sessions. I got my weight down to 12st.

“London was even more special than 2019 and it seemed even more people came out to cheer us on.

“After the marathon, myself and some other runners were in a jam-packed Underground station going back to our hotel. When the people saw us with our medals they gave us a rapturous round of applause.

“My wife was with me and it was a very special moment. It made the hairs on your neck stand up and I had tears in my eyes. What a day.”

And Mark has no intention of slowing down. He will enter the New York Marathon next year and the Chicago Marathon in 2023 to raise more funds for charity to combat cancer.

He has raised close to £6,000 in two years, almost £3,000 raised for Cancer Research via his current JustGiving page. Donations are still welcome at Mark's Page at JustGiving.

More information about Blackpool Freedom Runners is available on its Facebook page.

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