Pendle solicitor running marathon in North Korea to raise money for Pendleside Hospice

James taking part in the Chester Marathon 2016
James taking part in the Chester Marathon 2016

A Pendle solicitor has not let the disappointment of missing out on a London Marathon place stop him from completing a special charity challenge in memory of his dad.


James Robbins (36), of Barrowford, will instead now fly out to North Korea to take part in the Pyongyang Marathon on Sunday, April 7th, as he looks to raise as much money as possible for Pendleside Hospice.

James with his dad, Bob.

James with his dad, Bob.

"I applied to take part in this year's London Marathon but found out in around October that I hadn't got a place," said James, a former Nelson and Colne College student. "I was disappointed but I still wanted to do something.

"I'd read an article a while back about a marathon in North Korea and so thought that would be something different to do. I began researching it and here we are."

Pyongyang only began allowing foreign amateurs to run the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon in 2014 with a mere 429 turning out for last year's race.

James, a solicitor at Harrison Drury & Co in Clitheroe, has only taken part in one marathon previously – the Chester Marathon in 2016 – but is looking forward to experiencing the sights, sounds and roads of the North Korean capital.

"You have to go as part of a tour company so I'm going to be there for four days. I'm looking forward to seeing the city and we're going to a beer hall the night of the marathon which should be interesting.

"There's actually a four-hour time limit on the marathon so I need to make sure I'm ready for it. I'm not sure it's going to the most exciting of marathons as you do three laps of the same course.

"It also finishes in a stadium though where there will be around 50,000 people cheering us on, so that will be some experience. They say it's actually the closest experience you can get to being in the Olympics.

"I do a fair bit of running. I've actually been running since around the age of 16 but I've never done it competitively.

"I used to go out running with my dad and the dog, just a way to keep fit really. For this I've been doing around one long run per week – 17 miles or so – and two to three shorter runs. I've run to Preston a couple of times to get my car after a night out as well."

James' dad, Bob, died at the age of 67 in October 2017 from a brain tumour. He spent the three months beforehand in and out of Pendleside Hospice care.

James said he will always be grateful to the hospice for the amazing care they gave his dad and this was his small way of saying 'thank you'.

"We are so grateful for the help and care dad received while in the hospice. The staff made what was obviously a really difficult time for us all the more bearable.

"I know they get a lot of support, but they get no public funding, yet make such an incredible difference to people's lives."

James, who is funding the entire trip himself, set up a JustGiving page – which can be found here – shortly after Christmas and has been overwhelmed by the response so far.

"I had an initial target of £3,000 but had to increase that to £5,000 and may have to increase it again. I'd like to say 'thank you' to everybody who has already donated and to anybody who still wishes to make a donation, small or large, I assure you it will be greatly appreciated."