A band of brothers from Preston are embarking on an ambitious running challenge in the Highlands of Scotland to help make a better life for children in Africa. Despite never having run long-distance before, the Coxheads – John (26), Edward (24), Mark (20) and David (18) – will take on the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon on September 27, alongside fiancé Laura Bocking (24) and girlfriend Josie Brown (18).
While running the marathon, which follows the shores of the iconic loch in the Highlands, the brothers will be raising funds for Friends of Mulanje Orphans (FOMO), a Preston-based charity that provides vital feeding centres to orphans in Malawi, as well as health care and educational services.
John, a primary teacher and the eldest of the Coxhead brothers, says, “Our family has always been heavily involved with FOMO. Our neighbour, who is from Malawi, set up the charity in 2000 and our parents have been involved from the outset.
“In 2006 our family travelled to Malawi, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting and spending time with the orphans. It really energised our desire to support the charity, and do all we could to help improve their quality of life.”
FOMO supports over 4,500 children across a network of 14 support centres in the Mulanje region of Malawi. As well as providing health, educational and nutritional services to orphaned and vulnerable children, the charity also supplies pre-school and extra-curricular activities, as well as running computer, driving and tailoring schools.
John continues, “Since visiting Malawi, we have organised concerts and shows, and Ed took on a mountaineering challenge. Running the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon is one of our most ambitious challenges to date and we’re aiming to raise £2,500 for FOMO through our JustGiving page.”
Despite never having run a marathon before, the Coxheads are upbeat and optimistic about the challenge ahead of them.
Student David says, “I’ve never really done any long distance running before, apart from the Manchester 10K, so the whole thing is quite daunting. But I think my training is going as well as could be expected, considering I have just sat my A levels.
“I try to get out for two longs runs a week, with shorter runs in between. I have no idea what to expect when we get to the Highlands, but I can’t wait.”
John adds, “We’re all at different stages of our training. We’re spread out across the country a bit now – in Preston, Durham and London – but if we’re ever together, we try to go out running. We recently came back from a holiday in the Hebrides, and we managed to get out and stretch our legs a few times while we were there.
“When we planned it last October, running a marathon seemed like a good idea and a laugh… now the training has kicked in, it all seems a bit more serious! Although none of us have run a marathon before, we’re all active and play a variety of sports. And we like a good challenge.”
In choosing the perfect marathon for their debut, the Coxheads thought long and hard but, in the end, they found there was one natural choice.
John says, “We have always enjoyed visiting the Highlands on family holidays, and we know that the scenery up there is fantastic. We heard from a few friends who are keen runners that the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon is one of the best on the circuit, so it was a real no-brainer. We can’t wait to head up north and experience it for ourselves.”
The Coxheads will join thousands of other runners at the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon, many of whom will also be running to support charities – including official charity Macmillan Cancer Support. In 2014, charity runners raised over £1.3 million for good causes around the world. Those wishing to sign up for charity spots have until September 7 to register, and spaces are also still available for the Baxters River Ness 10K and 5K.
For more information about Friends of Mulanje Orphans visit www.fomo.co.uk, and donate to the Coxheads at www.justgiving.com/coxhead-