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Dereham Runners' athlete Rob will put pain to one side for London Marathon charity effort

PUBLISHED: 09:45 18 January 2018

Rob Crockford (second left) with his team at the London Marathon in 2017. Picture: Family

Rob Crockford (second left) with his team at the London Marathon in 2017. Picture: Family

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When Dereham Runners' Rob Crockford toes the start line of the London Marathon on April 22 he faces a double challenge immeasurably harder than 26.2 miles of running.

Rob Crockford and son Oli in happier times. Picture: FamilyRob Crockford and son Oli in happier times. Picture: Family

Not only does Rob plan to run the Brighton Marathon just seven days earlier. In addition, his second London race will mark a poignant anniversary, for on the eve of the event last year he received the worst news any parent can receive.

“A police officer phoned and asked if I was the father of Oliver Crockford,” recalls Rob.

Oli, 20, a trainee draughtsman, had just finished an apprenticeship in computer-aided design and was set to take up a place at university.

“My immediate thought was that he’d been hurt in a car accident and that my wife and I should head back to Norfolk right away. But then the officer told me that my son had died.”

Oli passed away in his sleep while staying over at the house of a friend and it later emerged that he had become dependent on codeine-based painkillers.

“We had some inkling that he was dabbling with drugs,” Rob admits. “I tried reading him the riot act but ultimately he took the wrong path. My wife Micky and I shed a lot of tears that night at the hotel in London. Our only child had gone and there was absolutely nothing we could do.

“I was due to run with nine colleagues from TNT, We raise money for Wooden Spoon, a charity that supports children and young people with disabilities, or who face disadvantages.

“After much soul searching, Micky and I decided that I should still try to run and raise that money to help other kids. In fact that thought alone held me together on what was obviously the worst day of my life.

“My legs carried me around the course but my head wasn’t really anywhere at all. Everything was just a blur. I felt very alone to be honest. I was surrounded by 40,000 other runners but none of them knew what I was going through.”

Rob kept goihg though and crossed the line in 4 hours 21 minutes as his team raised £22,000.

This year a combined TNT/FedEx team of 40 will again raise money for Wooden Spoon and have set an ambitious target of £60,000. You can help Rob raise funds by visiting his JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rob-crockford1

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