Thursday, 23 September 2021

Man completes seven half marathons and 21-mile river race

A FORMER Henley man has raised more than £5,000 for Cancer Research UK by completing eight

A FORMER Henley man has raised more than £5,000 for Cancer Research UK by completing eight endurance challenges.

Jon Cooke took part in seven half marathons and a 21.6-mile row after his mother Hazel, of Cromwell Road, Henley, was successfully treated for the disease.

Mrs Cooke, 74, developed a malignant tumour in her oesophagus last year but underwent a chemotherapy drug trial which brought it under control. The growth was surgically removed in April and she has now been given the all-clear.

When the Henley Standard first reported on Mr Cooke’s efforts in August, he had finished four races — in Croydon, Leeds, St Albans and High Wycombe.

Last month he set a new personal best time by completing the Richmond half marathon in just under an hour and 41 minutes.



Six days later he competed in the Great River Race on the Thames from the Isle of Dogs to Ham.

Mr Cooke, 41, partnership manager for the Totally Thames Festival, joined five other rowers, a cox and a passenger from the Ahoy Centre in Greenwich, a watersports charity he has worked with previously.

They were rowing in a traditional Thames cutter and finished in about three hours and 25 minutes.

Mr Cooke, a former Gillotts School pupil who now lives in London, then entered the Folkestone half marathon.

He ended with the Henley half marathon earlier this month, running with his old classmate Simon Strickland, who still lives in Henley. He was greeted at the finish by his mother, father David, brother Chris and one-year-old son Oliver.

Afterwards, he and several other school friends enjoyed a reunion dinner at the Strada restaurant in Bell Street.

Mr Cooke presented the money he raised to Cancer Research UK at a party for his supporters at Badgemore Park Golf Club in Henley, which was attended by about 100 people.

He said: “The Great River Race was amazing but quite exhausting as I’m still very much a novice. It was a wonderful boat to row and there was a great party at the end, which made up for it.

“It was incredible to row under all the major bridges in central London and there were loads of people on the banks cheering us on as we passed.

“I didn’t know how difficult the Henley half would be because I’d heard a lot of people talking about the dreaded hill at Fawley. It was a great help running alongside Simon because he’d just finished a marathon in Berlin and was in very good shape. The route was beautiful and Henley is my home town so it was the perfect place to finish.

“I definitely want to do more runs next year but I think that’ll be for personal satisfaction rather than for charity. Mum is very proud but what I did was easy compared with being treated for cancer. I just wanted to do what I could to help.”

Donations will be accepted until the end of November at www.justgiving.com/sevenrunsandarow2015



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