Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YORK to 80360 or send an email»
Marathon day for York actor James O’Neill
9:18am Thursday 10th October 2013 in News
A YORK actor will face a marathon day when he takes part in not one but two of the city’s biggest events in less than 12 hours.
James O’Neill will run in York’s first marathon before acting in a performance of the First World War play Blood + Chocolate, which is being staged across the city centre later the same day.
He will cross the start line of the Yorkshire Marathon at 9.30am on Sunday week, but at 7pm, instead of putting his feet up and enjoying his achievement, he will be going out again to take his place as one of the actors in the show.
James, 42, a father-of-two who plays a soldier in the sell-out show, said: “It’s nice to feel alive and do things in life that mean something. I am doing things on a double header, but life sometimes throws these things at you.”
James will be running the marathon, his first, in memory of his sister, Caroline Baker, who died last year aged just 44, and is raising money for St Leonard’s Hospice.
Caroline was from York but moved away about 20 years ago, and died after a long battle with illness.
“I wanted to do something in her memory, because you feel helpless when you see someone and you know it will be the last time,” said James. James acted in last year’s Mystery Plays and when the chance came up to audition for Blood + Chocolate, he knew he had to get involved, even though the play overlaps with marathon day and his crucial last-minute training time.
“I am working full time, doing Blood + Chocolate, and trying to scratch runs where I can,” said James, who works at Stonebow Job Centre. “But it doesn’t matter because I am doing two great things.”
Working with the cast and crew on Blood + Chocolate makes the hard work and punishing schedule worthwhile, he said.
“The lead actors are great. Even when I’m feeling tired or down it’s an inspirational experience. It’s still a pleasure and a privilege to be working with them, and it keeps me going.”
He has the support of his family – including wife Wendy who is running the marathon as well and eldest son Jack, nine, who is acting alongside his dad in Blood + Chocolate. James’s fellow actors have helped out with his fundraising, donating to the St Leonard’s online giving site.
On race day, James expects to finish the run in around five to five-and-a-half hours before rushing home, grabbing a sandwich and a shower and jumping on his bicycle to get back into town for the evening’s performance.
Comments are closed on this article.