Briton traversing US after mother’s death says run is nothing compared to cancer

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A British man close to completing his 3,100-mile run from California to New York City – who lost his “special, wonderful, loving” mother to cancer – said “there’s a sense of ignorance to my own suffering because I know, seeing someone fight cancer, just how much worse that is”.

William Goodge, 29, from Ampthill in Bedfordshire, is aiming to be the fastest Briton to ever run from Los Angeles to the Big Apple, sometimes running 60 miles in a day.

Mr Goodge’s mother Amanda died at the age of 53 of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer five years ago, and running extreme distances has helped him manage the pain of her absence ever since.

After setting off at the start of April, Mr Goodge told the PA news agency over half-way through his journey “when it gets tough out here, to me, there’s a sense of ignorance to my own suffering, because I know, seeing someone fight cancer, just how much worse that is”.

The runner, a former rugby player for Ampthill RUFC, is no stranger to extreme challenges, having run 48 marathons in 30 days in 2021 and raised £50,000 for charity in the process.

Brit runner
William Goodge at the half-way point of his run (Reece Robinson/PA)

He intended to finish the challenge on June 4 but, as his trip has “gone better than planned”, he said he now aims to arrive in New York in late May.

Mr Goodge has raised more than £55,000 by taking on the challenge, with the funds being split between Macmillan Cancer Support in the UK and The American Cancer Society in the US.

Mr Goodge said his mother’s death when he was 23 “was the most devastating thing that probably could have happened to me”.

He explained that he was immensely close to his mother: “If I got the best news in the world, she’d be the first person I talked to, and if I got the worst news in the world, she would be the person I’d go to.”

After she died, “there was an innate sense in me that I couldn’t make that just be a sad story”, he said.

Mr Goodge discovered running as a means of feeling close to his mother after completing his first run, in Santa Monica, several months before she passed away.

Brit runner
William Goodge running through Missouri during his trip across the US (Reece Robinson/PA)

“She’d just been to her doctor and she was in remission, so as far as I was concerned, at that moment, she had beaten cancer and it really was the happiest moment in my life.

“Fast forward nine months and she did pass away because the cancer came back but I naturally found myself running and, upon reflection, I understand I was trying to get back to that moment of feeling pure joy and happiness.

“I’ve always been chasing that feeling by running.”

Mr Goodge finds that the physical and mental difficulty of running extreme distances is a way to feel connected to his late mother.

He said: “It gives me an immense sense of purpose and I get to feel extremely close to her when I do things like this because it’s a celebration of the person.

“When it gets tough out here, to me, there’s a sense of ignorance to my own suffering because I know, seeing someone fight cancer, just how much worse that is.”

As he runs through deserts, pine forests, snow-capped mountains and dual carriageways, Mr Goodge has been eating upwards of 6000 calories a day and sleeps in a van each night, which is kitted out with a bed, cooking equipment, a fridge freezer and a shower.

William Goodge with his crew in Missouri (Reece Robinson/PA)

He said: “Everyone’s doing everything they can for me and I honestly feel very lucky to be here.”

Now, with not long left of his journey, Mr Goodge is feeling positive about the miles ahead and his continued quest to make his pain meaningful.

He said: “Pain can really serve as your superpower.

“That’s why I’ve done any of the things I’ve done – it’s come from a source of loss and a source of pain, but I’ve owned that and used it for something good.”

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