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Cambridge business leader Billy Boyle to run seven marathons in seven days for charity

A Cambridge business leader is to run seven marathons in seven days, starting on Good Friday (29 March), along the length of the Thames Path, raising vital funds for charities close to his heart.

Owlstone Medical co-founder and CEO Billy Boyle, 45, will set out on the gruelling 184-mile challenge with the aim of finishing at the Thames Barrier next Friday (5 April).

Cambridge businessman Billy Boyle with twin sons Isaac, left, and Oscar, right
Cambridge businessman Billy Boyle with twin sons Isaac, left, and Oscar, right

And while Billy pounds the Thames Path, his twin boys Isaac and Oscar,14, will complete 184 press-ups every day.

They’ve set up the Boyle Boys’ fundraising page, for Cancer Research UK and Street Child in memory of Billy’s wife and the boys’ mum, Kate Gross, who died in 2014 of colon cancer.

Billy said: “Kate was diagnosed with late-stage colon cancer in October 2012 and at one point was given the all-clear, but it came back.

“Despite the best efforts of wonderful doctors and after a lot of treatment, Kate died on Christmas morning 2014.”

Billy, who lives in Cambridge, has combined his passion for running with a determination to raise funds for charity in her memory.

He previously ran 100km on one of the hottest days of 2022, but this will be his biggest challenge to date.

He continued: “One of the things I’m most worried about is that many parts of the Thames Path are completely flooded at the moment, so I might have to come up with some alternate marathon routes.

“I’m also a little bit concerned about picking up an injury along the way. Having run two consecutive marathons over two days, I know what to expect, it’s just whether something goes ‘pop’!”

Billy is going to stay overnight with friends and family en route, and is also hoping people will join him along the way.

His progress can be followed via a live tracker, which people can view on Billy’s X (formerly Twitter) account @Bily_Boyle (with one ‘l’ in Billy).

Kate is the driving force behind everything Billy does. Following her death, his company, Owlstone Medical, has been developing a breathalyser for disease – a non-invasive breath test with a goal to detect disease earlier, including cancer and liver disease.

He also sits on Cancer Research UK’s Early Detection and Diagnosis Research Committee and has been combining his love of running with raising money for charities including Cancer Research UK.

Billy added: “Nearly one in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime, but if picked up earlier the chances of survival are 10 times better.

“Cancer Research UK supports the best researchers in the world to help find ways to diagnosis cancer sooner and save lives.”

As well as raising money to fund life-saving research into cancer, the family is also fundraising for a charity that was close to Kate’s heart, Street Child.

Kate – a former aide to Tony Blair – was also the founding chief executive of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) which worked to provide practical advice and support to rebuild structures of government in post-conflict African states.

“Just before Kate died, she wanted us to help raise money for the wonderful efforts of Street Child who opened a school in Sierra Leone named after her,” said Billy.

“The charity has helped over one million children around the world.”

The family’s fundraising page can be viewed at justgiving.com/team/boyleboys.

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