Students

A marathon to fight cancer

Vindicat runs for a cure

In October, 850 Vindicat members will run the Mutua Marathon. Their goal is to raise 100,000 euro for research into immune therapy as a cancer treatment.
By Michelle Gerssen / Translation by Sarah van Steenderen

Student Lot Bergkamp studies Economics and Business Economics, serves on the Vindicat board, and is organising this year’s Mutua Marathon, as part of the Amsterdam Marathon. With another four months to go, the organisation’s goal to raise 100,000 euro looks attainable; they have already raised 55,000 euro.

We’ve calculated that we’ll make it if everyone raises 116 euro. I’m pretty confident we’ll get there’, Lot enthuses. Participating runners can pick one of three distances: a full marathon (officially 42.195 kilometres), a half marathon, or eight kilometres.

‘My mother died of cancer. A year later, a friend of mine ran the marathon in Rotterdam. I took my year club to cheer her on and that’s when we realised we wanted to do something like that as well; something athletic that would benefit charity’, says Lot. They wasted no time and managed to get 250 additional people to sign up to race with them. ‘I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to involve the entire association?’

Pockies

Earlier this year, she posted the idea on Facebook. ‘I got responses fairly quickly, including from people who wanted to help organising. We’ve got a team of about ten people, and we’re organising events throughout the year to raise awareness of the marathon.’ These included a bar crawl through Groningen (which raised 10,000 euro), a charity dinner, and acquisition actions where the team asked for companies to sponsor them. They also raised money by selling Pockies – that is, underwear with pockets featuring the Mutua Marathon logo.

I was diagnosed with childhood cancer four years ago

Law student Stef Lips is helping organise the marathon. He’s ran two half marathons, himself. ‘I needed motivation to finally run a whole one’, he says. ‘I thought I’d join people who are doing it for a good cause. It’s been such a great combination of sports and positive energy, with everyone contributing.’ So far Stef has raised 200 euro, but he thinks he can raise even more over the next few months.

Lucinde Akkerman, a student of Middle Eastern studies, is also part of the organisation team. ‘I was diagnosed with childhood cancer four years ago’, she says. ‘I was only able to return to running two years ago. I saw the message on Facebook and decided to join.’ She also managed to get friends and family back home, who obviously aren’t in Vindicat, to sign up for the marathon. Lucinde has currently managed to raise 100 euro.

Amsterdam

Raising money for cancer is laudable – but where does the money actually go? Lot explains it will go to research into immune therapy that started at the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek hospital in Amsterdam. ‘It’s a relatively new field of cancer treatment. It’s supposed to enable your own immune system to fight the cancer. It should essentially be able treat any kind of cancer. That is what drew me to it, because it would benefit everyone.’

Lot also considered raising money for the UMCG, but eventually decided to go with the Dutch Cancer Society, which ‘everyone knows. You need that brand awareness if you want to raise one hundred thousand euro. And since we’re running in Amsterdam, it seemed appropriate.’

How does Vindicat at large feel about the initiative? ‘They think it’s great’, Lot says. The association does charity work all year long through their foundation, VIA (Vindicat in Action). They organise, among other things, a Christmas dinner for homeless people at the Vindicat club house. They will hold the dinner again this year; the Mutua Marathon is just gravy.

‘No one is obligated to join’, Lot emphasises. ‘People who want to can join, but some people have said that they’re terrible at running. So they’ll be our supporters.’ When the marathon is over, they’ll have a drink to celebrate their probable win. ‘We found a nice venue for that, but it’s too small for the number of people who’ve signed up’, she laughs.

Training

‘I’ve only had positive responses’, says Lot. ‘So many of them say they always wanted to run a marathon, but they needed the right motivation. A lot of year clubs or roommate groups signed up together and also train together.’

But they’re still students, and they need to start training early. That’s especially true for runners who’ve signed up for their first half marathon, says Lot. ‘Everyone who’s running a whole one knows how bad it’s going to be. The people who signed up to run eight kilometres can finish it at a walking pace if need be. But the half marathon runners might need an extra push. Most people think all they need to do is run a 10K once and they’re prepared. The same goes for me by the way; I have to start training soon if I want to make the finish line.’

The half marathon runners might be a little too complacent

Lot and her fellow organisers have engaged RunX to help everyone with training. There are six more training sessions before the summer. ‘And there are a few after, as well’, says Lot. Runners can also go to sports therapist Joeval Benjamins to get checked out, at a discount. ‘That way they’ll know which injuries they have to look out for, and what kind of shoes to wear. He’ll also give a talk at our pub with tips and tricks for the marathon.’

If you miss the students running through town, you can catch them training on October 13, a week before the marathon, at the 4 Mijl race in Groningen, which will have a special student section this year. Lot has reserved five hundred starting numbers. The students aren’t running the 4 Mijl to raise money, but mainly to train. ‘It’s a really great way to train for the eight-kilometre race in particular.’

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