Seven friends who share a love of poker and snacks plan to run six marathons each for a cancer charity after one of them lost his mother to the disease.
The group, who call themselves The House of Snacks, all live in the village of Lingwood, near Norwich, and have continued to meet virtually to play poker through lockdown.
Carpenter Graham Preston, 43, lost his mother to bowel cancer last July and, when he told his friends of his challenge to support Cancer Research UK, they agreed to join him.
The seven men, aged between 40 and 51, plan to run a marathon each month from January to June this year, with their efforts drawing messages of support from a series of top poker players.
Mr Preston, whose poker name is Taskmaster, said: “We used to meet up for poker but now we have a virtual game every week because of the pandemic.
“We don’t take ourselves seriously and there is far more beer drunk and snacks eaten than actual poker playing but we do enjoy it and there is a lot of teasing and banter thrown around.
“When my mum died I told the guys that I was going to run a marathon in her memory and that’s when they all said they wanted to sign up and support me – so we came up with the crazy idea of each one us running a marathon a month for six months.”
They have been completing their 26.2-mile runs around their village and Mr Preston said they “often get a cheer and wave as we pass by”.
The six other players – Carl Eady, 51, Phil Barnes, 45, Carl Johnson, 40, Pete Daines, 50, Rob Dye, 43, and 41-year-old Steve D’Souza – have raised more than £3,000 to date.
Mr Preston said that months after his mother’s death the “grief is still very raw” but he has found that the “best way to deal with these moments is to channel my energy into helping others”.
“Besides Rob, none of us were runners,” he added.
“Just a bunch of middle-aged men trying our best to get up and run a few miles each day to raise money for a good cause.
“There have been a few aches, strains and moans along the way but we have all come a long way since we first started.”
Top British poker player Stephen Chidwick and a series of international PokerStars ambassadors, including Fintan Hand, Benjamin Spragg, Felix Schneiders, Arlie Shaban, Thomas Hayward, Georgina James, and Mason Pye, have sent video messages of support and pledged to donate.
Mr Preston said he is “absolutely amazed” that the efforts of The House of Snacks have been “recognised by some of the best poker players in the UK and abroad”.
The friends plan to support Cancer Research UK’s Race For Life At Home campaign on Saturday April 24 by running 5k as part of their marathon challenge.
To enter Race For Life At Home for £5 and then receive a race pack, which includes a medal, see https://raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org/ or call 0300 123 0770.