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Ben Stokes inspired to take up charity challenge to raise funds for the NHS and Chance to Shine

Cricketing superstar Ben Stokes is to run his first ever half marathon, raising funds for the NHS Charities Together and national children’s cricket charity Chance to Shine.

Stokes announced the news on his Instagram channel on Sunday (3 May) having been inspired by the efforts of three men who ran full marathons in their back gardens over the weekend. 

Rob Cross, Rob Treasure and Charlie Newman, ran full marathons by running the length of a cricket wicket 2,387 times on Saturday (2 May), all whilst wearing cricket kit and carrying a bat. The three men, who dubbed themselves the Cricket Garden Marathon team, completed their runs in times of 4hr 44 (Newman), 5hr 3 (Cross), 5hr 33 (Treasure), with their challenge streamed live on the Chance to Shine Facebook page.

Stokes, who admitted that the furthest he had ever run was 8km, will be running a half-marathon near his home on Tuesday 5 May and is encouraging anyone who wishes to support his effort to donate to the page set up by the Cricket Garden Marathon team. 

The three friends, who are currently enrolled at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, set an initial target for the fundraising page at £2,000. However, thanks to the generous support received so far, the total currently stands at £4,750. 

Chance to Shine is a national cricket charity that delivers cricket coaching sessions in a quarter of primary schools in England & Wales every year. The charity reached over 600,000 children in the last academic year, providing many young people with the opportunity to play, learn and develop through cricket. 

Since the start of the COVID-19 national lockdown, the charity has focussed its efforts on supporting teachers and parents to keep children active through digital cricket sessions, made available every week, that can be used in the home, with limited space and equipment. 

Speaking on his Instagram page, Stokes said “[A half marathon] is always been something that I've thought about doing a but never really got around to overdoing it. Obviously we've been in lockdown so I thought what a great opportunity to go out and if I'm going to do it I might as well try and raise some funds. 

“I will be hopefully inspiring people to make some donations towards the Cricket Garden Marathon, I'm just trying to add some more funds to what they've managed to do. They are supporting NHS and are also supporting Chance to Shine which is obviously got a very close attachment to cricket, which is what I am. 

“I've done absolutely no training, the longest distance that I've ever run is 8 kilometres. So, I don't even know I'm going to be able to complete it but hopefully I can. I'm sure if I get to a point where I feel like I can't go on I know that I'm doing it for a good course and that will get me over the line.”

Rob Cross, who ran his marathon in his back garden at home in Wimbledon said “We were astonished that Ben had seen our efforts and was getting behind us. For him to decide to take on a challenge of his own and encourage people to donate to our page is fantastic and we wish him all the very best. 

“In these unsettling times, we wanted to do something to help and so of course we wanted to support the NHS who are doing an amazing job. We all love cricket and the Chance to Shine charity is giving so many children and young people across the country the opportunity to play cricket and experience everything that is great about the sport. Leadership and teamwork are important values to us in the Army but are skills which are transferable in all walks of life, especially cricket." 

Chief Executive at Chance to Shine Laura Cordingley said “When we heard that the Garden Marathon team were going to be taking on the challenge to raise funds for Chance to Shine, we were absolutely delighted. Just like nearly every other part of society, the charity sector has been hit very hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re very grateful for the funds raised by Rob, Rob and Charlie that will support the charity through this tricky period. 

“For Ben to see their efforts and decide to support them is really amazing. I’m sure he could have raised a huge amount in his own name but to get behind their fundraising page is a really amazing gesture. I want to thank Ben for his support and wish him the very best of luck in his challenge.” 

To support Ben and the Garden Marathon team go to bit.ly/gardenmara