Irishman Stephen Roche, winner of road cycling's triple crown in 1987 (Giro d'Italia, Tour de France and world championship), will run the New York City marathon on November 2. The accomplished athlete, now 48, will be competing in his first marathon as a fundraising project for the foundation of cancer survivor and ex-footballer Geoff Thomas.
"Training for the marathon is hurting me, but I know there are people who are hurting even more. I have a choice about whether I run in the New York Marathon. I am healthy enough to do it and in doing so I can raise funds and awareness for people who are less well off physically and have no choice."
In 2003, Thomas was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia and was given just months to live. A bone marrow transplant from his sister saved his life and since then he has raised over £1 million for leukaemia research in the UK. His fundraising efforts were inspired by Lance Armstrong, and in 2005 he rode the gruelling 3,500km of the Tour de France route and then did it again two years later with four other cancer survivors.
"I have watched many fellow patients lose their battle with blood cancer and I can't watch my friends die and do nothing," said Thomas. "Lance Armstrong was a huge inspiration to me and it has always been my ambition to go to America and have a team running in New York."
British cycling champion Brian Smith and marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe are also participating in the marathon and the fundraising effort. Irish pro cyclist Nicholas Roche, who'll be racing for Ag2r in 2009, is the son of Stephen Roche, and the cousin of Garmin-Chipotle pro Daniel Martin.
For more information on the Geoff Thomas foundation, visit www.geoffthomasfoundation.com.