830,000 Londoners planning an epic physical challenge after living through the Covid-19 pandemic


New research published today by Macmillan Cancer Support reveals that the Covid-19 pandemic has turned us into a city of ambitious adventurers, with more than 830,000[ii] people in London (12 per cent) planning to say ‘yes’ to taking part in an epic physical challenge, inspired by living through the Covid-19 pandemic. That’s a total of 6 million people across the UK (13 per cent).

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Vimal, pictured, is taking on the London Marathon this year

Vimal Raghwani, 40, from Wembley is taking on the marathon with Team Macmillan following an eight-year break from running, after a loved one was diagnosed with cancer during the pandemic.

Vimal says: “When I heard the news that someone I love had cancer, I felt like the world was crumbling around me. I was so grateful for the support Macmillan provided.

“I started to run more to help clear my mind and I’m so proud to be taking on the marathon this year for Macmillan. I’m thrilled to have the chance to raise money for a charity that has been a lifeline for us during the pandemic.

“Taking on the epic challenge of running the London Marathon is going to be the perfect way to show the world that we’re ready to kick cancer in the ass!”

Of those taking on challenges, 72% will be doing at least one challenge for the very first time, with a third of first timers citing that they would have likely said no to the challenge before the pandemic (34%). In addition, almost one in five of us (18%) are determined to tick off or add to the adventures on our bucket list as a result of the pandemic, or to write one for the very first time.

The research also revealed that Gen Z (aged 18-24) are the most likely generation to say yes to a new challenge that they would have likely declined pre-pandemic (14%), followed by 35-44-year-olds (7%).

Among the challenges that people want to take on for the first time this year, running – from 5km to a marathon – is at the top of the list (37%), followed by hill or mountain climbing and hiking (32%), walking (23%), and cycling (16%).

Just over one in three people taking on a challenge are doing so to embrace life more following the Covid-19 lockdowns (35%), whilst raising money for charity is another top reason (27%)[iv]. One in four (26%) plan to challenge themselves to ‘get out of a rut’ following the pandemic, and a similar number are looking to reconnect with other people (23%). One in nine (11%) plan to put themselves through an epic physical challenge this year in memory of a loved one.

Thousands of Virgin Money London Marathon participants will be tying up their laces to start training this month, 16 weeks out from the highly anticipated return of the iconic event on Sunday 3rd October.

Macmillan Cancer Support is the official charity partner of this year’s event. #TeamMacmillan runners will be taking on the marathon to raise vital funds to help the charity be there for everyone living with cancer from day one, following the devastating impact Covid-19 has had on cancer care and Macmillan’s income.

Claire Rowney, Executive Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Innovation at Macmillan Cancer Support, said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on our income, at a time when people living with cancer need our support more than ever to help navigate through what continues to be an incredibly anxious period.

“We’re thrilled to be the official charity partner of this year’s event – the vital funds raised by our runners and supporters will help us continue to do whatever it takes so we can be there for everyone living with cancer from day one of their diagnosis.”

To donate to #TeamMacmillan visit londonmarathon.macmillan.org.uk. The funds raised by Team Macmillan runners and supporters will help Macmillan continue to provide vital support and do whatever it takes to be there for everyone, from day one of their cancer diagnosis.