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Jonathan Barr

Experienced marathon runner and fundraiser

2010, aged 50 and having always thought I hated running, I ran my first Virgin Money London Marathon, with my son, Sam, who had just turned 18.

Skip forward eight years and I’ve now run seven Virgin Money London Marathons. My wife, Lauren, has run six and our daughters, Sabrina and Sadie, ran it together in 2018 for the first time.

I was diagnosed with testicular cancer shortly after the 2014 Virgin Money London Marathon. Following an operation I was given the all clear but I was re-diagnosed the following year. Three months of aggressive chemotherapy followed, during which I nearly died twice. At the same time, my mum, Valerie – who had been my chief supporter and fundraiser – was dying of breast cancer.

I ran the 2017 Virgin Money London Marathon in her memory and fundraised for two particular charities of which we had had close personal experience during both our illnesses, Chai Cancer Care and North London Hospice. That year’s race was my favourite so far, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry promoting the Heads Together campaign for mental health awareness and being on hand to give support and water.

In total we have raised close to £68,500 from seven Virgin Money London Marathons, two New York Marathons and the 2018 Great North Run. My target is to raise £100,000.

I have just run the Chicago Marathon – my 20th marathon. It gets tougher as I get older. I have nerve damage in my feet and also get very achy, tired and breathless – all side effects of my chemotherapy.

But I will keep going as long as I can. In 2019 I plan to run marathons in Tokyo, Manchester and – for the eighth time – London. I simply love being part of it all, connecting with fellow runners and the numerous supporters and spectators. London is the best from a fundraising perspective. So many fantastic charities are represented. It feels part-carnival, part-party – but most of all, simply a celebration of life!

I’m looking forward to sharing what we’ve learnt from fundraising, my journey through to April and how we train as a family.

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