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Leyton man runs barefoot marathon across Hackney Marshes for charity

PUBLISHED: 13:34 30 October 2020 | UPDATED: 10:19 03 November 2020

Yanni Papastavrou is celebrating his birthday by running a barefoot marathon on Hackney Marshes.

Yanni Papastavrou is celebrating his birthday by running a barefoot marathon on Hackney Marshes.

Papastavrou family

A Leyton physicist is celebrating his 51st birthday on Halloween by running a solo marathon through Hackney Marshes barefoot.

A Leyton physicist celebrated his 51st birthday on Halloween by running a solo marathon through Hackney Marshes barefoot.

Yanni Papastavrou ran the marathon on Halloween to raise money for Solace Women’s Aid, a charity which works to support women and children and prevent violence and abuse.

He works as a physicist in the radiotherapy department at North Middlesex Hospital in Edmonton, helping to treat cancer patients, and began running to work to avoid public transport during the coronavirus lockdown.

READ MORE: Hackney dad runs virtual London Marathon pushing five-month-old in a pram

Before the challenge, the Leyton resident said: “Running a solo marathon is a huge challenge for me.

“It’s much easier to do an official marathon, all the other runners and spectators carry you along.

“There’s a connection with other runners that really helps – especially towards the end, you just drag each other over the finishing line.

“I hope that the knowledge that I’m helping raise money for a cause that is important to me will help see me through the harder parts of this tough challenge.”

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After realising he would not be able to celebrate his upcoming birthday with friends and family due to Covid-19 restrictions, Yanni decided to raise money for charity by running a the marathon barefoot.

The physicist has over 15 years experience with long-distance barefoot running, an activity which has become increasingly popular in recent years following the release of the bestselling book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

Yanni has raised over £1,000 so far for Solace Women’s Aid, a cause personally important to him as his mother provided refuge for a woman and her children who were escaping a violent marriage when he was a child.

“This formative experience left a deep impression,” said the physicist.

He has also known several women who have experienced domestic violence and says fundraising is a good way to ensure essential and lifesaving services continue.

In May this year, referrals to Hackney Council’s Domestic Abuse Intervention Service (DAIS) increased by 60 per cent during the coronavirus lockdown, from around 25 cases per week to almost 40.

READ MORE: Coronavirus lockdown: Domestic abuse referrals in Hackney rise by 60 per cent

The physicist said spent “a very indulgent birthday afternoon” relaxing with his wife after finishing the marathon.

“I had a great time, really enjoyed it,” he added.

To donate to Yanni’s fundraiser, click here


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