‘It will feel every bit as real’ – virtual marathon runners meet Harry

Cancer and surgery survivors shared how running has carried them through some of the most painful moments of their lives with the Duke of Sussex, ahead of the 2020 London Marathon.

Harry met two couples in a Los Angeles park before they took part in the virtual Virgin Money London Marathon.

Sitting socially-distanced on the floor of a playground, cancer survivor Chudney Espiritu told him she felt inspired to take up long-distance running after getting the all-clear in 2016.

Ms Espiritu, who will be running with her husband Mark in Valencia, told Harry: “One day I laced up, ran, and never looked back.

“I enjoyed running so much. It became my therapy, my meditation and it just made me feel alive.

“Running taught me to keep moving forward, one step at a time, especially in the most painful moments.”

Ms Espiritu ran her first marathon in Paris in 2019, after she “fell in love” with the city in the year of her all-clear from cancer.

She ran two more marathons after that, in Paris and Chicago, and is dedicating her part in the London event to her mother, who is battling brain cancer.

Eric Schneider told Harry that despite having three titanium screws in his spine, he is running the marathon from Los Angeles alongside his wife Kim who will be supporting him on her bike.

Virgin Money London Marathon – St James’ Park
Virgin Money London Marathon – St James’ Park

Although he found walking “virtually impossible” after the surgery, 15 months later Mr Schneider completed an Iron Man challenge in Austria, and has competed in events around the world including a triathlon in Germany, and the Boston Marathon.

He told Harry he has been running since the age of six, and that his “persistent patience” learned while recovering from surgery will carry him through the 2020 virtual event – his sixth marathon.

“I’ll be amongst an exclusive group who themselves will be uniquely located around the world participating in the 40th London Marathon race,” he said.

“To some, it may only be virtual. For others including myself who will cover 26.22 miles that day, it will feel every bit as real.

“As one song goes: ‘Guess I’d rather hurt than feel nothing at all’.”