Newcastle researchers complete one-thousand mile relay challenge

Sophie Wilson tells our good news story number twenty-two, regarding researchers running and cycling to fundraise for Cancer Research, refusing to allow lockdown to prevent fundraising.

Sophie Wilson
12th May 2020
Image: Geograph

The Race for Life at Home Challenge allows people to design their own challenge in aid of raising money for charity, and now Newcastle researchers have got involved. 

On the Cancer Research webpage, the charity states that you can “twerk, limbo, star jump, squat, skip, dance….whatever”. Participants have to choose the challenge that they want to complete and then set up a fundraising page so that financial aid is not being completely cut off for he charity during the lockdown. The Cancer Research UK Newcastle Drug Discovery Unity has now managed to find a way to get involved: a thousand mile relay challenge. 

The Unit is a team of cancer biologists, structural biologists and medical chemists. They work on developing new, differentiated, small molecule therapies for cancer patients, and have contributed to the discovery of two cancer medicines which have already been used to treat patients. 

But last week, fifty researchers grabbed their athletic gear to walk or cycle the equivalent distance of a circuit of all five of the Cancer Research UK Drug Discovery Units.

They will virtually be travelling from Newcastle to Glasgow, Manchester, London, Cambridge and back to Newcastle, all while adhering to social distancing rules. 

Dr Suzannah Harnor is a Senior Research Associate at this unit at Newcastle University. She has said that because all researchers are “spending a lot of time indoors this spring, it feels good to take back some control and plan something positive to help fundraise for more research and to help people who are going through  cancer right now.” 

Professor Mike Waring, Chemistry lead for the Drug Discovery Programme at the Centre of Cancer has said that he hopes that the “activity will raise awareness of the new fundraising activities and that people will get behind us and take on their own Race for Life at Home challenges”. 

The challenge will be recorded by the Strava app, and although the challenge is only meant to be nine-hundred miles, the team have declared that they are going to travel one-thousand miles to ensure that they definitely complete it. 

The researchers have said that it is important, now more than ever, for fundraising to carry on. Cancer Research UK expects a 25% decrease in income in the next financial year because of the pandemic. As well as six-hundred high street shops shutting across the UK, the Race for Life Newcastle has been cancelled as well as other key fundraising activities. Therefore, these challenges have become really important to ensure that progress regarding the research into cancer does not come to a stop. 

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