A CANCER patient who has undertaken a series of challenges inspired by Jane Tomlinson is gearing up to take part in York’s first marathon.

Andy Speakman, 56, from Skelton, was diagnosed five years agi with follicular lymphoma, which has returned after a brief period in remission.

Since taking up exercise as a way to deal with the illness, Mr Speakman ran the York 10km race and he has now signed up for the Yorkshire Marathon being held in memory of the late charity fundraiser in the city in October.

Mr Speakman said: “After being diagnosed with cancer, I felt I needed to take some control over how I dealt with it. I felt getting fitter and healthy in body and mind was fundamental to this so started cycling and doing a bit of running.

“I started chemotherapy just after entering the Run For All 10k in York and ran the race two-thirds of the way through my treatment. I also changed my diet and turned almost vegetarian, and since then, I’ve stuck at getting fit. I now go spinning, cycling and in the last few months took up running again.”

Mr Speakman will take part in the St Albans Half Marathon in June and has applied for the London Ride 100 event in August.

He signed up to the marathon to end his year of challenges after being inspired by the efforts of Mrs Tomlinson, who raised almost £2 million for charity by tackling a series of endurance challenges despite being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

Mr Speakman will join 350 runners hoping to raise thousands of pounds for Yorkshire Cancer Research.

He said: “I was, like many others, completely in awe of the efforts Jane Tomlinson made to publicise cancer, to selflessly try to do something about it and I’m so glad her family has kept the charity going. It was almost a no-brainer when the Yorkshire Marathon came up that I would put in for it.

“I ran a few marathons many moons ago and I distinctly recall swearing after I finished the last one that I’d never do one again. Time heals and the old memory has softened the pain of the cramp, nausea and overwhelming tiredness – so I’m really up for this one.

“I’m really looking forward to the feeling of achievement after I’ve passed the finish line. Jane did many more impressive challenges while with cancer and undergoing treatment.

“That was inspiring and something I keep reminding myself of on the odd occasion when I get all pathetic and self-pitying. Preparing for the challenge of the marathon has almost helped me forget the lymphoma. That’s got to help.”

Although the event has sold out, more places may become available and you can currently join a waiting list by visiting theyorkshiremarathon.com. You can also register to volunteer for Yorkshire Cancer Research at the event by emailing events@ycr.org.uk

To sponsor Andy, visit www.justgiving.com/Andy-Speakman1.