A year after major cancer surgery that saw Ian Sturrock’s appendix, spleen, gall bladder and parts of his stomach and intestines removed, the retired policeman is set to take on the challenge of the Active Northumberland Kielder Half Marathon.

The 54-year-old from Sedgefield, County Durham, will tackle the 13-mile course with his wife, headteacher Liz, to say thank you to Cancer Research UK.


Two months after he retired from Durham Constabulary in July 2020, he was diagnosed with pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP), a rare form of cancer found in only one in every four million people.


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In October 2020, he spent two weeks under highly specialist care in Basingstoke, which included 16 hours in surgery and a 12-hour operation. He describes the procedure as “Frankenstein, gruesome surgery” and he lost three stone in weight as a result of the operation.


Leaving hospital, Ian set himself the goal of taking on the half marathon at Kielder, and spent the next few months restoring his strength. In January 2021, he went for his first run and started building towards his target.


Ian said: “It was something to aim for once I came out of hospital, so I’ve slowly but surely built my strength up.”


In 2017, Ian ran the Kielder 10k to mark his 50th birthday, and the following year completed the London Marathon while Liz ran the Kielder Marathon, so they are both familiar with the challenges of the Kielder routes.


Now in remission, Ian added: “We know how lovely it is up at Kielder, but we are also aware of how gruelling the hills are.


“It’s a case of this being a race for me to finish. I’m not looking at times, it’s about getting across the line and getting that medal. But it’s also about saying thank you to Cancer Research UK. The work that charity has done over the years is saving lives now and I’m here to tell the story.”


The Active Northumberland Kielder Marathon is run by Events of the North, a company led by Olympians Steve Cram and Allison Curbishley, supported by event hosts Northumbrian Water, as well as Northumberland County Council, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and Active Northumberland.


Steve Cram said: “Ian’s story is nothing short of mind-blowing. To think that it will be just under a year from the operating table and such life-changing surgery to running the Active Northumberland Kielder Half Marathon is just one of those things that makes sport so wonderful. What an amazing way to say thank you to the experts and the charity that make things like this possible.”


Event partner Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospitals in Northumberland and North Tyneside, is one of four organisations nationally to be part of the Active Hospitals pilot to promote physical activity to benefit patients and to support staff to be active too.


This is being coordinated for the Trust by Ruth Stevens, who said: “This example from Ian is really inspiring and highlights how physical activity can help if you’ve recently been ill, injured or undergone any form of treatment or surgery.  As Ian says, he had to start slowly and build up his activity.  Being more active can be a challenge but by building up the time and intensity of your activity, you will experience the many benefits of being active. Just half-an-hour a day can make a difference.


“Ian enjoys running and doing something that you enjoy means you’re far more likely to keep doing it, especially if you can be active with friends and others to make it fun. Running a marathon or half-marathon is an incredible challenge, but we know that some activity is good and more is better. However you choose to move, it’s all good for your health and wellbeing.”


People can sponsor Ian at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ian-sturrock3


Places are still available for the Kielder Marathon, Half Marathon, 10k and Run Bike Run, which take place across the weekend of October 2 and 3. For more information, visit www.kieldermarathon.com