Ultramarathon runner in training ahead of cancer op this summer

(37911897) Neil finishing a trail half marathon called El Diablo. This is an event run by Trail Monkey in Jersey.

A RUNNER with prostate cancer is taking on two ultramarathons this summer to raise money for charity and to encourage other men to get tested.

Neil Laffoley, who works for Active Jersey, was diagnosed in January – shortly after he began his training.

Undeterred, he is planning to run a 40-mile race called the Double Top Ultra in May which circles the north coast from Grosnez to St Catherine twice, followed by a 70-mile race, in June, from Carlisle to Newcastle. That event is called The Wall and follows the path of Hadrian’s Wall.

Mr Laffoley, who trains at least four days a week, is aiming to fundraise for Prostate Cancer UK and raise awareness about the condition while showing that it is nothing to be afraid of if caught early.

He said: “The message I’m trying to get across to men is that they should not be afraid of a diagnosis and that it isn’t all the doom and gloom that you imagine.

“Yes, of course, I worry sometimes and let my mind run away with me, but, in reality, I’m still running and carrying on pretty much as normal ahead of my operation in June.”

He added: “My advice to men who suspect there may be something not quite right is to get checked out.

“I’m trying to show that if there is a problem and it is caught early, then life still carries on as normal, even doing sporting activities such as mine.

“There is nothing to fear if any problems are identified in time.”

Mr Laffoley’s first ultramarathon was a 56-mile road race called Comrades in South Africa in 2022 – but he wants to challenge himself this year by doing two.

“I love the challenges both mentally and physically of when everything about you is exhausted and [I enjoy] figuring how to solve those challenges,” he said.

“I’m also fascinated by the unfolding story of putting oneself through an ultramarathon and how you manage the challenge in your mind.”

Talking about his training, he said: “I prepare by putting together a 20-week training plan which covers not only running but strength and conditioning, nutrition and learning from other ultramarathon runners through books or YouTube videos.”

When asked for tips on how to get through the pain, he said: “As hard as it can be, you need to rationalise difficult situations when they come.

“Difficult moments or low energy levels will pass if you know what to do to correct them, whether that be through slowing down for a while or taking on hydration or nutrition.

“If you’re thinking of doing a similar challenge for charity, commit to it but enjoy the process and stick to the plan. Don’t take it too seriously and don’t overthink it.”

Islanders can make a donation here.

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