Tony and his superhero running mates raise hundreds in church fundraising mission after cancellation of Wisbech Rose Fair
PUBLISHED: 12:05 28 September 2020 | UPDATED: 16:38 28 September 2020
A team of superheroes flew through Wisbech and five Fenland villages in a marathon mission that raised £750 for St Peter & St Paul’s Church after the Covid-cancellation of Wisbech Rose Fair.
Tony Foice-Beard, chairman of the St Peter & St Paul’s Rose Fair committee, set himself the challenge of running his first ever marathon while dressed as Batman as a way of topping up the church’s “extremely low” funds.
Tony, who donned a black cape after asking his daughter who her favourite superhero is, completed a gruelling 12-week training regime in the run up to the 26.2-mile challenge.
As anticipation grew and word got around, supers from all over town - including his Fenland Running Club team co-mates - joined the good cause, including Superman (Karl Baxter), Wonder Woman (Tracey Else) Bat Girl (Larissa Follen), Super Girl (Amy Baxter) and the Princess of Power, She-Ra (Dawn Ball).
Tony said: “The fundraiser has done well considering it’s just six loonies running around like superheroes on a random Saturday.
“I couldn’t have wished for more support. It was a hard slog towards the end with the wind, but we managed to plough through.”
Although he originally intended to take on the marathon alone, it didn’t take long for Tony’s Fenland Running Club teammates to ask if they could run alongside him.
The support of his running mates, who also provided energy tablets, drinks and bars when things started to get tough, was just the boost Tony needed.
“You can train for this stuff but not the thought process on the day. It’s quite a big task, mentally,” he said, having ran past 14 churches in a route that flew through Elm, Emneth, Walsoken, West Walton, Leverington and Wisbech St Mary before finishing in Wisbech at St Peter’s Garden.
“Some of the runners just turned up and ran alongside me, which I had no idea about, and people were clapping and cheering from their cars and windows, which was well-needed.”
Remembering having “a second wind” when he arrived at Etcetera, Tony recalls going “hell for leather” for the last leg of the marathon.
However, nothing could have prepared him for the 30mph winds: “I’d never trained in the wind at all - and there were some very open fields. I would turn a corner and be hit with gale force blows - that slows you down mentally.
“Even for Batman,” he admitted, “I was tired and wanted it to all end - I had a lot of those points.”
Tony said that raising “vital money” for the church is more important now than ever because “it costs a lot of money to keep a building of that size still standing and going. It’s a beautiful church and a real centrepiece for the town.
“A lot of effort goes into the Rose Fair, all from volunteers, that people don’t recognise”.
Tony added that the idea for the marathon - “it was my first one, but I just thought ‘if I’m going to raise money it might as well be a marathon’ - came from his desire to “help bring the Rose Fair into the 21st century.
“When I took over as chairman, one of the things I wanted to do was bring something different.”
With plans in mind to hold a different sort of fundraiser (pre-covid, of course), he hopes that the success of the superhero marathon will show the committee and Wisbech Town Council just what is achievable - even in such a short amount of time.
He says that, next year, “my ideal vision would be for children to have a 1k run through town then a 5k for the adults, with stalls afterwards offering sport therapy and massages.”
It’s unsurprising to learn, then, that he’s already thinking up an even bigger fundraising challenge for 2021 - despite the aches and pains he’s felt after this first marathon.
“It’s going to have to be a triathlon; not quite the full Iron Man though, I don’t think I’m ready for that.
“Watch this space and we’ll see what happens next year!”
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