Knaresborough Runner Takes on Venice Marathon for Yorkshire Cancer Research

19 October 2017

A Knaresborough charity worker will begin a year of fundraising for Yorkshire Cancer Research this weekend by taking on the Venice Marathon.

Kirstie Speciale, a support worker for Age UK, will head to Italy in the early hours of Saturday with her friend Helen Gregory, a seasoned marathon runner who has provided training and motivational support in the run up to the big day.

The Venice Marathon, which takes place on Sunday (October 22), starts in Stra, a small town west of Venice, in front of Villa Pisani, a mansion built in the 18th century.

Kirstie and Helen will have the chance to enjoy the sights of the city, including St Mark’s Square and the Gran Canal, as they make their way around the route. The pair will pass over 14 bridges before reaching the finish line at Riva Sette Martiri.

Kirstie, 46, said: “I happened to be in Venice last year when the marathon was running and decided that if I ever did one, that would be it. I didn’t actually think I would though. I’m not a distance runner and in fact only took up any sort of exercise at all in the last six years.

“Training has gone okay. There’s been ups and several downs, but hopefully I’ll get round somehow. Helen is amazing so I’m hoping she’ll get me to the finish line.”

Kirstie is hoping to raise £3,000 for Yorkshire Cancer Research, which aims to help more people in the region survive cancer by funding innovative research and community health projects.

As well as completing the marathon, she is planning to hold charity bingo nights, fitness classes and cookery demonstrations. She is also hoping to take part in a 400 mile bike ride from Venice to Rome through the Apennine mountain range.

Kirstie added: “I feel passionately about supporting local cancer charities after tragically losing several family members and friends to the disease. I also know several people who have survived cancer or are currently undergoing treatment. Last year I supported the Yorkshire Cancer Centre and raised more than £3,000 by organising several events, culminating in cycling from London to Paris.”

To sponsor Kirstie, please visit For more information about fundraising for Yorkshire Cancer Research, please visit



Notes to Editors

  • Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
  • We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
  • Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
  • Current statistics show that 575 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
  • We aim to:
    • Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
    • Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
    • Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
    • Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
    • Campaign for fair and equal access to the very best healthcare services and a greater share of the money spent nationally on research.

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