A determined mum who lost two family members to cancer within eight months is taking on a double marathon challenge in their memory to raise money for a top Welsh charity.
Emma McCracken, will complete both the New York and Berlin marathons – just six weeks apart – is running in memory of her mother and father-in-law, Phillip and Adele McCracken, from Gwersyllt, in Wrexham, who recently lost their cancer battles within eight months of each other.
The 42-year-old from Nesscliffe, in Shropshire, who balances a tough training regime with providing care for her 13-year-old son who has Down’s Syndrome, is aiming raise vital funds for Wales’ leading cancer charity Tenovus later this year.
Her efforts have now been boosted by Denbigh-based Lock Stock Self Storage – the UK’s largest containerised storage company – which is proudly sponsoring her for the Berlin Marathon on September 24th to help her reach her £800 target.
The firm, which has storage park across North Wales including in Wrexham and Flintshire, is now calling for other local businesses to get onboard and donate in aid of the charity, which supports cancer patients and their families, funds research and works to raise awareness on how to prevent cancer.
Emma, who lives with her husband Peter, 41, and three children, a son and two daughters aged six and two, said her in-laws were both in their mid-seventies when they were diagnosed with cancer.
“My father-in-law was struck down first with a brain tumor and was receiving treatment to manage the condition over 18 months. My mother-in-law cared for him until he passed away.
“She was just beginning to get her life back on track before being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in November 2022. She died in January this year.
“It was an awful time. What made it even worse was all through Covid, we couldn’t see them in case we passed something on to my father-in-law who was receiving treatment. We missed out on so much. It was really hard.
“Tenovus is such a worthwhile cause. The amount of support and advice they provide is amazing, they have dedicated chat lines and other services to make it easier for a person living through a really difficult time.
“Going through it twice myself with my husband’s mum and dad, you realise how much this support is needed.
“It’s a difficult enough time as it is for anyone going through cancer but to worry about the financial side of things as well can make life even more challenging.”
Until last autumn, Emma, who helps out as a dinnertime supervisor at a local primary school, had only run 5k or 10k.
She was inspired by some running friends who were in training for the London Marathon and decided to give it a go, successfully applying for a place on behalf of Severn Hospice in Shropshire where her aunt had previously received care. Her
efforts raised £3,200 for the charity against a target of £2,000.
“I completed the marathon four weeks ago and to my surprise I survived it! I found out about about Tenovus and how it helped Welsh people through their cancer struggles and it touched a nerve, with my mother and father-in-law both being from Wrexham,” she explained.
“Tenovus had a place in the Berlin Marathon and they said if I wanted to support them I could take part.
“I had already secured a place in the New York marathon through a sports tour operator but decided to carry on fundraising for Tenovus for that event too – the more I can do to raise awareness and funds, the better.”
Emma said donations from businesses like Lock Stock had been a lifeline during the current economic climate where many families were counting the pennies and had little spare income to donate.
“To be honest, when I started training, the fundraising side of it was daunting, especially in the current financial climate. You really have to put yourself out there, but it takes its toll. I’m lucky my husband and children are so supportive.
“I see Lock Stock all over the place and approached them to see if they’d help me and they were really keen to get involved which was great. It means a lot to me to get companies onboard to help with the sponsorship.
“Lock Stock came back to me really quickly and paid into my Enthuse fundraising account. I really appreciate them raising awareness about what I’m doing to get help from other businesses.”
Lock Stock Sales Consultant Lisa James said: “We have a real commitment to supporting charities and good causes in the areas where we operate and we were really touched by Emma’s efforts in memory of her in-laws.
“As we have storage parks in Wrexham and in Shropshire we were delighted to support her – running marathons in New York and Berlin will be fantastic
experiences and in aid of a really good cause.”
Emma runs the New York Marathon on November 5 and is busy training for both gruelling races with three runs every week and yoga and strength training in between.
“The dedication side of it is the hardest part,” she said. “I have three children and my 13-year-old son is disabled. He has Down’s Syndrome. I also have two daughters aged six and two. One of the reasons I’m doing this is to make them proud of me.
“London was very tough. There were a few points along the way where I thought I can’t do this but you have to remember why you’re doing it.
“I just kept thinking that I was fortunate to be able to run at all, and that some people receiving hospice care will never have that opportunity.
“That’s what it’s all about, just putting one foot in front of the other and keeping going.
“Berlin is a flat course and known to be a ‘quick’ course whereas New York is hilly. To be doing two six weeks apart between them will be tough.
“My mother-in-law would’ve been really proud. She was a nurse by trade, and I always remember her saying she would’ve loved to run the London Marathon. This would have meant a lot to her.
“If I can complete them both it will be a massive achievement. It means I’m doing as much as I can for another amazing charity.”
To support Emma’s fundraising challenges visit: https://tenovuscancercare.enthuse.com/pf/emma-mccracken/post/3351075