For some people running a half marathon is a one-off achievement, but the 2017 Vitality Bath Half Marathon will see 49-year-old teacher Andy Westley lace up his running shoes to run the race for an impressive 13th time. This year, as with many of his previous races, Andy will be running to raise money for CLIC Sargent, a much-loved charity that supports children and young people with cancer, which all stems back to an experience that has stayed with him since his first days of teaching.
As an English teacher in secondary education, Andy was teaching at his first school when a boy in his Year 9 tutor group contracted cancer and died, aged just 13. “It has stayed with me ever since,” says Andy, “and when I saw that CLIC Sargent was one of the Bath Half charities I knew that I wanted to run for them.”
The Vitality Bath Half Marathon takes place on Sunday 12th March and is one of the top three single day charity fundraising running events in the UK, raising over £2.2 million at the 2016 race alone. The award-winning event supports over 130 different charities and CLIC Sargent is a Platinum Bond charity. For runners like Andy, the race offers a fantastic opportunity to raise funds for a cause that has touched him.
In preparation for his 13th Vitality Bath Half, Andy is running three or four times a week around his home-town, Trowbridge, in Wiltshire. He runs on his own and sometimes takes the picturesque canal towpath towards Bradford or Devizes. For him it is social running for fitness, after having to give up his beloved rugby and cricket, although his target time for Bath is a respectable 2 hours 20 minutes. “I will be very pleased to get that, as age and injuries are catching up!” admits Andy.
Although he doesn’t know how much he has raised in total for CLIC Sargent over the years, and there is some inevitable sponsorship fatigue after so many years of doing so, Andy’s fundraising will be making an important difference to a charity that works tirelessly to improve the lives of young cancer patients. With 11 children and young people each day learning that they have cancer, CLIC Sargent is there to help, support and guide young patients and their families from the moment of diagnosis through to cancer treatment and beyond, including supporting bereaved families living with emotional pain.
As cancer treatment can often take children miles from their home at a time when they most need the love and support of their family, CLIC Sargent offers 10 Homes from Home across the UK, which give families a free place to stay close to principal treatment centres. The minimum pledge of £200 sponsorship that the charity requests from each runner could pay for a family to stay in one of their Homes from Home for six nights.
The Vitality Bath Half Marathon is one of the most popular road racing events in the UK, its two-lap course renowned for its brilliant atmosphere and for being fast and flat, ideal for athletes of all levels including beginners and charity runners. It covers a 13.1-mile traffic-free course straddling both sides of the River Avon. Each year the race attracts a strong British elite field and a large number of celebrities who are attracted by the stunning setting, fantastic crowd support and the promise of a good finishing time.
Cancer Research UK is the Lead Charity for 2017, with Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens the official Family Fun Run Charity and Dorothy House Hospice Care the official Local Charity.
All entries for the 2017 race are closed.