Horsham woman to take on 156-mile ultramarathon in memory of dad who died from cancer

A Horsham woman is taking on a 156-mile ultramarathon in memory of her dad who died from blood cancer.

Wednesday, 29th January 2020, 2:29 pm

Private flight attendant, Gemma Morris, 36, from Southwater, will complete the Marathon des Sables - a six-day, self sufficient run in the Sahara Desert.

Gemma will be raising funds for blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan.

Her dad was diagnosed with mantle cell lymphoma in 2001, which returned after several rounds of chemotherapy and he died in 2005.

Gemma Morris

Before his death he was told that his only hope of a cure would be a stem cell transplant from an unrelated donor.

Anthony Nolan searched their stem cell register for a match, but he died before a transplant was able to take place.

Gemma said: ‘My dad and I just had an amazing bond. I was distraught when we lost him. That’s why I run in his memory, it’s nice to do this in his legacy.

“I like to think he can see everything I’ve been doing.

“Although he’d probably be looking down going ‘You’re crazy, you’re absolutely crazy.’

“I just think that if I can help someone who is in the same situation as my dad was, it’s all worth it.

“If I’m able to fund someone to join the Anthony Nolan register, who then goes on to donate and save someone’s life, that would be absolutely fantastic.”

Gemma has been training hard for the event, which starts in Morocco on April 3, and even ran a marathon on Christmas day.

She has spent time running in hot conditions to try and adapt to the heat of the desert.

Gemma added: “In the run up to the event I will be putting a lot of portable radiators in my garage and turning the heating up, bringing the temperature up to as high as I possibly can and running on my treadmill in there.”

She said she plans to carry photos of her dad with her as motivation during the gruelling event which could see her running up to 22 hours a day.

Anna Scalera, head of events at Anthony Nolan, added: “It’s an incredible challenge and with each step Gemma will be saving lives.”

To sponsor Gemma see www.justgiving.com/fundraising/gemma-morris22

For more about Anthony Nolan or to take on your own charity challenge visit www.anthonynolan.org/events

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