Downing Street Event Acknowledges Sports Therapy Students’ Efforts at Marathon

A national charity has recognised the help it receives from University of Worcester Sports Therapy students at a special reception at Downing Street.

Every year Sports Therapy students from the University provide support to those competing in the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK, offering massages and soft tissue work as well as recovery advice to competitors. An event was hosted by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, at 11 Downing Street, to thank the charity’s various supporters.

Zac Read, Lecturer in Sports Therapy, who supervises the students, attended the event on behalf of the students and the University. He said: “The students love doing it and it’s nice that their efforts have been recognised in this way.”

Sarcoma UK raised more than £440,000 through its 126 runners at this year’s London Marathon. The special reception marked the contribution that Worcester students and other people have made by helping the charity over the years with the 26.2-mile event. Mr Hunt has a personal connection with the charity Sarcoma UK, having lost a family member to sarcoma – a rare form of cancer.

Since 2019, the University has been taking around 10 students, usually third years, down to the event, which counts towards their 200 placement hours.

“We always receive good feedback from the Sarcoma UK runners and the students,” said Mr Read. “The students always really like it, not just because it’s London, but because they are talking to a lot of people with personal experience of the disease who have been running the Marathon. The students find it really interesting hearing why the runner has decided to take part, how their training has gone and how the race itself has felt. Some people can breeze through it and some don’t realise what it is going to be like. Our students also talk to the runners about recovery strategies post marathon and how to start moving easily again over the next few days.”

Mr Read added: “It’s also a really interesting thing to put on your CV, that you’ve done post-race work at such a major event. It’s good experience.

“We have seen many graduates go on to do paid work in event work, but, even if they want to set up their own clinic, they have experience in a marathon and they might end up working with people undertaking long distance running events. The students are thinking about the muscles that work specifically in long distance running – it’s almost always quads, ankles and back work. It enables the students to appreciate what’s going to be sore and the best way to help them.”

Meanwhile there are also less obvious benefits. “It’s the talking side of the job,” said Mr Read. “People don’t appreciate that there’s that aspect of learning to talk to people initially after a race or an event and talking whilst working is a definite skill. To do that you need to practise and it’s great that they get that practice with events like the London Marathon and charities like Sarcoma UK.”