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Palace to Paris: Runners raising funds for Cure Leukaemia reach half way point and smash £25k target

A fundraising duo running the distance from Crystal Palace football ground to Paris over the course of a month in honour of their brother-in-law say their efforts are now ‘mind over matter’ as they cope with 28 degree heat, pain from running with no rest days, and daily ice baths.

As we reported last week, the pair are raising funds for Cure Leukaemia in the hope research can help their brother-in-law and former Southwark News journalist Geoff Hill and others like him who have exhausted conventional treatment options.

Geoff Hill, a former Southwark News deputy editor

Geoff, a father of three and former deputy editor of this paper, has been battling the disease since 2017. Since his shock diagnosis he has undergone countless rounds of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, a bone marrow and a stem cell transplant only to be told his cancer, which was in remission, has returned.

Lee and Jordan decided to start the challenge from Selhurst Park, as Geoff is a life-long Crystal Palace fan, at the beginning of June and will run every single day, with no breaks, until they have covered all 460kms.

Now half way through, Lee, who is married to Geoff’s sister, told the News: “The pace isn’t anything to shout about at the moment, we’re just putting one foot in front of the other.

“It’s been a hell of a rollercoaster for Geoff and the whole family and the last twelve months especially have been very difficult.

“We were very much part of his support network and with Covid we felt pretty useless.

“He’s having to go to hospital four times a week on his own and living as a prisoner in his house.

“We wanted to give Geoff a bit of focus away from treatment, bring some positivity to all of us, and do something proactive so it feels like we are contributing.

“We have been absolutely humbled by the way the club has supported us and the Palace community.”

Lee and Jordan kicked off the challenge at Selhurst Park

Although both are fit and active neither have a track record of marathon running, let alone taking part in such a physically and mentally demanding challenge.

“We are motivated by Geoff’s resilience, that keeps us going each day,” Lee added.

“We are fairly good at looking after ourselves, but I’m not a runner, I have never run a marathon or even a 10k competitively or anything like that.

“This is definitely uncharted territory.”

Before starting they did two months’ training and are now depending on physio, mental resilience and a bit of luck to keep them going and injury free and, in Lee’s case, a daily ice bath.

“It’s hurting each day,” he admitted. “My calves and hamstrings are tightening but so far – touch wood – no injuries but our time is slowing down.

“I know there are going to be some dark days ahead but if we can just get through them the light will be there at the end. And our friends are coming and joining us on the runs a few times a week to support us.”

They have also received fantastic support from other Palace fans and the wider community, including a personal video message from ultra marathon runner and comedian Eddie Izzard.

 

Jordan told the News: “It’s been very tough and we’re not used to running these distances but at all times we keep coming back to the most important point; that there has been an amazing amount of support for us to do this challenge, from the people helping us organise it to the people who have donated funds.

“It spurs you on to get up early or at the end of a tough day get out on the road to cover that distance.

“In a perfect world we would have hoped to catch the Eurostar to finish in Paris but that’s just not possible at the moment so we are covering it in loops around our area and chipping away at it slowly.

“We are now at the longest part of the journey, Calais to Paris.”

Before even starting the challenge they had already smashed their initial fundraising target of £15,000 and decided to push it up to £25,000.

“We may now nudge it up to £30,000 as we’re only half way through,” Jordan added. “We still want to push on for Geoff.”

www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Palace2Paris2021

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