Student gets on the ball and runs for Cancer Focus NI
05 December 2019
Twenty-one year old Rhys Mercer has caught the bug after taking part in the fun run at last year’s Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.
Rhys, from Belfast, was spurred to sign up after his mum Cheryl was diagnosed with stage 1 melanoma.
Now the criminology student is hoping to stride out and do the full marathon in 2020 for Cancer Focus NI, the marathon’s official charity partner.
Cheryl, who underwent several operations to remove moles early last year, had initially hoped to do the fun run as well. However, the marathon date was too close to one of her surgeries so she was unable to take part.
“I decided I wanted to do something for Cancer Focus NI after my mum was diagnosed. I hadn’t been affected by cancer before but I’ve become much more aware of just how prevalent it is. When I mention my mum to other people, it’s surprising how many of them have their own stories.
“I wanted to raise as much money as I could for Cancer Focus NI to help other individuals and families in similar circumstances. The charity does such fantastic work supporting people with cancer and spreading cancer prevention messages in the community,” said Rhys, who studies at Queen’s University Belfast.
“My goal was to run the 2.5 mile fun run in under 20 minutes and I managed it in 17 or 18 minutes. I’m a keen footballer and go to the gym, so I’m quite fit. I know I can run 10 miles but 26 miles would be the furthest I’ve ever run – a whole new challenge.
“Even if I can’t run the whole distance I’m pretty confident I’ll get across the finish line in the allotted time. I enjoy running but I‘m not going to even think about serious training until after Christmas.”
Rhys, who has already raised a fantastic £1,740 for the charity, said that many friends, family and fellow students have already pledged to make a donation to his next marathon challenge. He also hopes to have a few collections at Brackenvale Filling Station on the Saintfield Road where he works part-time.
“Mum’s diagnosis was a huge shock to the family, though she is doing well now. I have similar skin type so I’m now much more aware of taking care in the sun myself.
“Cancer Focus NI is such a worthwhile cause, I’d encourage everyone to sign up for one of the marathon events and raise money for them. It will make a real difference to people who need a helping hand,” said Rhys.
Among many other things, Cancer Focus NI helps workplaces develop policies for care in the sun, particularly for outdoor workers, and works with the Department of Health and the Public Health Agency to deliver the NI skin cancer prevention strategy.
To find out more about the charity visit www.cancerfocusni.org and follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
The 39th Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon takes place on Sunday 3rd May 2020 from Stormont Estate with a full line up of events to suit all levels of fitness including the Marathon and Wheelchair Race, the Team Relay, 8 Mile Walk and Fun Run.
Entries can be made via mobile or desktop at www.belfastcitymarathon.com with a middle rate available until Friday 28th February 2020. Final entry will be on 10th April 2020.
The Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon is sponsored by Athletics Northern Ireland, Daily Mirror, Belfast City Council, Better, Cool FM (Downtown Radio and Downtown Country), Translink, Spar, Belfast Live, Framar Health, Tayto and Four Star Pizza. This year’s official charity is Cancer Focus Northern Ireland.