Ipswich: Cancer survivor, 50, runs 50 races in 32 weeks

HE’S done it!

Keen runner Robin Belsom has completed a marathon challenge, to complete 50 races in 50 weeks in his 50th year – and he did it in just 32 weeks.

Around 18 months ago he was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

For the super-fit runner it came as a shock, but after two operations at Ipswich Hospital, Mr Belsom, who turned 50 last March, was inspired to raise money for the team who treated him.

Initially the aim was to run 50 races in 50 weeks, but to make it an even tougher challenge he gave himself a tighter time schedule.

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Crossing the finishing line yesterday at the Ipswich cross-country race at Martlesham, Mr Belsom said it was an “emotional” day.

“I am hugely relieved to have finished,” he said. “I am so pleased to have raised so much money for the colorectal team at the hospital.

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“I shortened the time I was going to allow myself to complete the races, to make it a bigger challenge.”

Last summer Mr Belsom tackled the most intense period of racing, completing seven races in just 15 days. In total he has tackled 18 10k races, 10 five-mile races, seven 5k races, seven cross-countries, five half-marathons, two 10-mile races and one seven-mile race, raising �7,000 for the cancer unit at the Heath Road hospital.

“It was tough keeping up with the schedule, which required a great deal of planning and travelling,” he added. “The support from other local runners has been fantastic and it has brought home to me what a great bunch of people the running community are.

“I feel a huge sense of satisfaction and pride at having completed the challenge and to have raised �7,000 for the cancer unit at Ipswich Hospital. It’s been an incredibly demanding yet rewarding experience.”

In April 2009, while on holiday in Mexico, Mr Belsom, a director at Ryan Insurance Group in Ipswich, first noticed the symptoms and felt unwell, but thinking it was the heat, he did not go to the doctors when he returned home.

It was four months later in August when he visited his GP and was dealt the devastating diagnosis.

Now more than a year on, Mr Belsom said he has promised his family this year is a year of rest, but vowed to come up with another challenge for next year.

“Whilst it was an arduous challenge, each race was a really positive experience,” he added. “My family have been brilliant. I am going to have a drink to celebrate.

“I am really grateful to the people from the running clubs, especially [Ipswich] JAFFA. They have been so supportive.

“The care and treatment from our local hospital is fantastic and I wanted to do something tangible to thank them for the care I had received.”

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