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University of Bristol’s London Marathon 2018 Team

14 February 2018

Bristol alumni are running the Virgin Money London Marathon 2018 for cardiovascular research at the University of Bristol.

Congratulations and thank you to the runners who have been selected to run the Virgin Money London Marathon 2018 to raise money for the University of Bristol. We were overwhelmed by the passion and enthusiasm that they displayed for the cause. 

We introduce our team below but first, it is with deep sadness that we share the news of team member Mark Wynn’s recent passing. 

Rocco Hale-Leighton, BSc Politics 2015  

'I’m 24, from London, and I am currently on the Heathrow Airport Graduate Scheme having graduated from Bristol in 2015. Cardiovascular health is something I care deeply about. At the age of 18, weighing over 18 stone, I decided to change my lifestyle. Through hard graft I shed the weight, and in the process, I developed a passion for physical challenges. As a result, the chance to push myself in order to raise money for UoB Cardiovascular Research, giving back to the University and helping a cause that is both worthy and one I care passionately about, was one I had to grasp. 

I am looking forward to raising a lot of money with the rest of the team so that we can keep UoB Cardiovascular Research making ground-breaking research and transforming lives.'

Tamara Short, BSc Geography 2015

'Cardiovascular disease remains one of the most serious medical challenges that society faces, so I am thrilled to be running for Bristol Cardiovascular research to help them to continue their life-saving work.'

Toby Smith, BSc Physiological Science 2010

'Since graduating from Bristol University in 2010, I confess I have done very little structured exercise apart from the occasional jog. However, that didn't stop me from entering the London Marathon ballot on four occasions - although I was unsuccessful each time. Luckily, last year, I was told by a friend from Bristol that the University had some charity running places left, so I duly applied. I was delighted when they offered me a place on the 2018 marathon.

I will be raising money for Cardiovascular research in the coming months. Coincidentally, Cardiovascular Physiology was also one of my chosen final modules of my undergraduate degree! My motivation for running the marathon is that it has always been a lifetime goal. My short term goal, though, is just to get fit. It just so happens that the 2018 London marathon falls on my birthday. If I get around it quickly enough, I may be able to say I completed the marathon before I was 30.'

Mark Wynn, BSc Chemistry 1985

Mark’s dedication to sport and fitness was an inspiration to us all. We are privileged that he chose to run the London Marathon in support of the University of Bristol’s cardiovascular research. It is with deep sadness that we share the news of Mark’s recent passing. We ask you to join us in thinking of his family at this time.

Originating from Gloucestershire, Mark graduated in Chemistry in 1985 under the expert guidance of Professor Guy Orpen. He completed his Chartered Accountancy qualification with Touche Ross in Queen Square in Bristol in 1989 before moving into industry. Since 1992, he has been working in Telecoms and in 1999, was appointed Managing Director of Avonline plc. Mark’s sporting background originated in football, captaining the University 1st team in his final year. For many years he played with the University Old Boys football team Bristol Union, and more recently for the Bristol Re-Union team where he competed successfully in the Bristol Veterans League.

Mark started competing in endurance events and raising money for charity in 2007. Highlights include the 8-day Cape Epic mountain bike race in South Africa and the Marathon Des Sables, the 250km foot-race across the Sahara. Mark was preparing to compete in El Andalus in July 2018, a 5-day, 250km race across the mountains in Andalusia in Spain. He was very much looking forward to running the London Marathon and supporting the University’s cardiovascular research, and we are deeply grateful to him for his support and commitment.

Oliver Plunkett, BEng Civil Engineering 1995

'Before moving to the Middle East, cricket and hockey were my sporting passions (although somewhat bizarrely I did run the Felixstowe half marathon in 2007!). Whilst in Riyadh and Dubai over the last 8 years, both my wife and I - and now our 9-year-old son - have joined running and triathlon clubs and enjoyed competing in a number of events each year. 

As a result my motivation is twofold. Firstly, I have always wanted to find a way to give something back to Bristol for the amazing experience I had at the University and the start that it gave me in my career - and somehow being an expat heightens that desire. Secondly, I am interested in continuing to challenge what I can achieve in terms of endurance events...'

Balini Narendran, PhD Ophthalmology 2013

'Over the past 15 years my life has been quite a roller coaster, and through the ups and downs one thing has helped me keep my head above water, the feeling of freedom that I get when I am running. Having grown up in London, I have always wanted to run the London Marathon. Though I have completed two half marathons before in Bristol, this is my first attempt at a full marathon and this has been a lifetime goal for me. Having completed my PhD at the University of Bristol with a full research scholarship, I feel it is now my turn to do my part to support others to do the same particularly in the field of cardiology where research advances will directly translate to life saving therapies.'

Thomas Walmsley, BSc Biology 2013

Thomas looks back on the three years he spent at the University as highly influential in shaping him into who he is today. This has motivated him to run the 26.2 miles in London in order to give back to the University that gave him the skills required to excel in his career, and to support the University of Bristol’s cutting edge cardiovascular research.


Further information

Find out more about the Cardiovascular research at the University of Bristol.