Undying love for his late wife has driven a Ravenshead man to raise thousands of pounds for charity by pounding the streets of London in the dark.
Retired 62-year-old Mike Farley, who used to work for Mansfield District Council, is planning his fifth assault on the Shine Night Walk marathon, staged by Cancer Research UK.
The 2018 event coincides with the 20th anniversary of when he first met his wife, Cazi, who died of secondary breast cancer five years ago. So he is hoping his fundraising can reach, appropriately, the magnificent milestone of £20,000.
“Cazi was, and always will be, the love of my life,” said Mike. “Her inspiration and determination gives me the strength to take on the Shine marathon, and I know she will be with me every step of the way again this year.”
The Shine Night Walk, which comprises two full marathons and two half-marathons across London at night-time, attracts about 17,000 participants every year. It’s aimed at power-walkers, striders and strollers, but Mike is usually among the top 20 to finish, covering the full 26.2-mile route in about six hours.
“It is a very moving event,” he said. “The emphasis is on fundraising, rather than competition, and everyone has their own reasons for being there. But I like to do it as quickly as possible.
“I did the first one on my own. But now I team up with friends I met and got chatting to on previous Shine walks.
“I always do some serious training for about six months beforehand in the Ravenshead area. I start by doing walks of three or six miles and then build my way up. I must know every crack in every footpath!”
Scheduled for Saturday, September 22, the 2018 Shine Night Walk will start from Southwark Park at 9.20 pm and will pass or cross many of London’s iconic landmarks, such as Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, Hyde Park, the Royal Albert Hall, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square and the London Eye before finishing at about 3.20 am at Old Billingsgate.
At the last four Shine events, Mike, who was head of service at the council, managing the engineers’ and architects’ departments, has raised £17,000 through sponsorship from family and friends. By the time he has finished this year’s, he estimates he will have walked a total of 2,500 miles, including his training, and completed the equivalent of 95 marathons.
However, he insists it has all been worthwhile to honour Cazi, also known as Carol, who worked for Mansfield Council too, as PA to the chief executive.
“She was my soulmate, a truly inspirational person who always had time for everyone and lived life to the full,” said Mike.
“She had such a wonderful smile and always adopted a very positive approach to life, never letting her illness stop her making the most of every opportunity.
“The Shine Walk is my way of contributing to the everlasting legacy that Cazi left in everyone’s heart.
“If I can raise another £3,000 to bring my total to £20,000, it would be tremendous. It’s such a great cause.
“Every year, Cancer Research UK’s scientists get closer to beating cancer. I was very fortunate enough to visit one of their laboaratories, and their work is truly inspiring and very exciting, giving me real hope that we can soon beat breast cancer.
“But only with our continued support can they turn their research into breakthroughs that save millions of lives. Every single pound you donate makes a difference.”
Mike is also organising a charity ball to boost his fundraising. It will be held at the Derbyshire Hotel at South Normanton, just off junction 28 of the M1, on Saturday, October 6, and tickets will go on sale soon.
“It will be a bit of a celebration for about 200 people,” he explained. “There will be a three-course meal, top entertainment, including a live band, a DJ, raffle and an auction, and I am offering sponsorship packages for businesses.”
If you would like to sponsor Mike or support his fundraising, please visit his Facebook page, Shine For Cancer Research Mike Farley, and follow the links.