The Moyleman Marathon is held every year off-road around Lewes in memory of runner Chris Moyle, who was cared for by Martlets in 2009. The event team has just made a donation of £2,500 raised from the 2022 race. We hear from Chris’s friends and family about the care he received at Martlets. They tell us why the race means so much to those involved.
“When Chris was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2008, it was such a shock,” says Camilla Moyle, Chris’s sister. “He was only 41, a keen runner, so fit, and full of life. This marathon in his honour just epitomises everything my brother was about. It’s a wonderful, challenging route; and everyone involved is so friendly; there’s such a lovely atmosphere on the day. I can’t think of a better way to remember Chris really.”
‘Chris so enjoyed the massage and reflexology sessions he was offered at Martlets. He got quite low after the diagnosis, and it really gave him a lift.’
Chris received outpatient care from Martlets both onsite and at home.
“Along with clinical care, Martlets were able to provide financial advice and other practical care. They were always there at the end of the phone,” explains Camilla. “Nurses came out to assess and treat Chris at home and, when he felt well enough, he went into the hospice as a day patient. He loved to go in because it made him feel connected to other people with terminal illness and he felt they understood. It also gave our mum and Chris’s partner Tina, who were looking after him, some respite.
After Chris died, we planted a tree in Preston Park in his memory. Soon after we lost him, I went out for a run; it was my way of coping. And I still think of him when I’m running. He was very positive and enthusiastic about his training and would spur other people on. Some of Chris’s friends came up with the idea of the Moyleman Marathon and the first race took place in 2015. I ran again in March this year and in 2023 my friend and I are doing the marathon as a relay.”
‘The first race was an absolutely brilliant day, and it was obvious that we should raise money for Martlets because I know my brother would have wanted that as a thank you.’
“Chris inspired so many with his love of tough downland runs and the joy of life,” adds Duncan Rawson, one of the event’s organisers. “Starting from Landport Bottom on the western end of Lewes, the run takes in the peaks of Black Cap, Castle Hill, Firle Beacon, and Mount Caburn. With over 3,000 feet of climb, and some steep descents, this is a hard run for relatively experienced runners. That said, for some this has been their first marathon distance, so it can be done!”
Ash Head, was Chris’s friend and running partner and was instrumental in setting up the Moyleman Marathon with Duncan. He says:
“It was Camilla who brought us up to speed with how important Martlets was. They were instrumental in easing Chris’s life during the last horrible months that he had to face. Duncan and I went to Martlets and had a tour of the hospice and met some of the people who had been involved in Chris’s care. We instantly decided that whatever else we do, Martlets will always feature in the Moyleman Marathon. Since then, we could have sold out the race 10 times over every year, it just sells out in within two hours. But it’s not about big money sponsorship or expansion; Chris was a local runner, so we want to keep that local feel.
Many of the people taking part knew Chris and it has a poignancy for them. One of the reasons we end up making a profit and can give to Martlets is that Harvey’s Brewery in Lewes supports the race. They give us their yard to finish in and provide us with 400 pints of beer at the end!”
Chris and Ash trained together and ran races in France, Spain and South Africa as well as closer to home. Chris wrote a blog about running and used the moniker ‘Moyleman’, which Duncan and Ash used to name the Lewes marathon in his honour.
‘He cared deeply about the people around him; not in a sloppy, sentimental way, but with a sincerity rarely matched. We shared a lot in our brief friendship and a hearty lust for life.’
Ash also wrote a blog about his passion for running and posted this tribute to Chris after he died:
“As I staggered alongside, gasping, desperate, he turned, that wolf’s grin wide, eyes sparkling through the foul rain.
‘Thought that was you – what a bloody racket!’
I attempted a rasped reply, all flapping lips and dribbling phlegm. He saved me the bother.
‘Suck it up big fella’ the grin spread wider. ‘Not far now’.
That to me is what Chris was all about. Easy affection, brutal honesty, unswerving determination, wicked humour, touching respect and a rich humanity.”
“Chris was terrific training partner because he wouldn’t suffer any whinging or whining. If ever there was going to be someone struck down by cancer it was such a shock that it was Chris because he was so robust and so strong. We just assumed that he’d go on forever. At his funeral service at the crematorium in Brighton the place was full and there were around 200 people outside. He was such a popular character.
A lot of the people that sign up for the Moyleman race know Chris and that really does give it a special atmosphere. His favourite colour was purple, and he’d run in purple leggings. So, our race marshals wear purple, we have purple arrows all over the route, and I wear my purple beret. It’s great event so please do support us and Martlets in any way you can.”
If you’d like to sign up for a fundraising challenge to support Martlets check out fundraise for us on our website. There are so many exciting ways to get involved and have fun.