Animals Asia All-Stars tackling a marathon aim to overcome coronavirus obstacles to raise £10,000

12 March 2020

An all-star team of marathon runners is raising funds for Animals Asia by running the Brighton Marathon on Sunday 19 April. The team consists of Animals Asia staff past and present but some team members will not be present due to the COVID-19 coronavirus precautions. 

Marathon runners in training

Bear and Vet Team Director at the Chengdu Bear Rescue Centre (CBRC) in China, Ryan Sucaet was planning to run the marathon but isn’t able to attend as he is stewarding the operations in China during this unprecedented crisis.

Ryan said:

“I’m absolutely gutted not to be able to join the team of Moon Bear Heroes at the Brighton Marathon this April and to help raise money for the organisation I’m so honoured to be working for. I’m sending my love and support to the whole team of staff, ex-staff and supporters and passing on the thanks of all the staff and bears here in China. Next year, I will be there in person!”

Ryan’s predecessor at CBRC is Nic Field who is running the marathon with her supportive brother Dave Field. Nic dedicated 11 years to the rescue and care of over 300 bears in China and continues her support of Animals Asia to this day. Nic said:

“I am hugely proud of the years with Animals Asia and consider it an honour and privilege to have worked with these incredible bears and amazingly compassionate and talented people. Although now not on the front line of the organisation's work, my support will continue forever. Inspired by the success of running the London marathon in 2018 - my first, and by my incredibly talented running brother, David, this is a great opportunity to rise to the challenge again whilst supporting a very special charity. David is an old pro with marathons - with around 30 completed and a number of ultra marathons to add to his list of athletic achievements.”

The Vietnam rescue centre will also be represented at the marathon by Former Bear & Vet Team Director of the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre Annemarie Weegenaar. Annemarie started as a Bear Manager at the China Sanctuary in 2006 and was chosen to work with a small team to set up the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre from scratch in the beautiful hills of Tam Dao National Park. 

Annemarie said:

“I left the sanctuary after ten years to head back to my home country and with this fundraising event I want to show that I have not forgotten about the most beautiful moon bears, and the best, dedicated and passionate team I have ever had the privilege to work with.” 

Annemarie at the Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre

The Moon Bear Heroes team also includes the following runners:

Monica Bando - Former Senior Vet Surgeon, CBRC

Wendy Leadbeater & Tina - Former Senior Veterinary Nurse & supporter sister, CBRC

Victoria Elliott – former Vet Nurse, CBRC

Joanne Dunsford – UK & Europe Director

Lianne Ottewell - Corporate, Community & Events Fundraiser, UK

Lynne Chitty – Long-term supporter & Mid-Devon Animals Asia Group Co-Ordinator 

Lynne Chitty said:

“Despite all they go through the bears teach us so much and they are the inspiration behind my marathon journey. If they can overcome terrible cruelty, then I can tackle 26.2 miles! With their courage and their spirit in my heart I will give it my best shot and try and raise as much as possible.”

 The Brighton Marathon has offered places to UK-based marathon runners who were due to take part in Paris and Rome marathons which have been affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. The organisers of the Brighton Marathon put out a statement on the coronavirus crisis:

“We are following guidance from the UK Government, the World Health Organisation, the Local Authority and our Medical Team regarding coronavirus. Given current guidance there are no plans to alter any of the Brighton Marathon Weekend 2020 events.

“We will continue to receive advice and information from these professional bodies who are monitoring the situation. We will stay under review and will update participants and general public where necessary."

Please support our tenacious team of marathon-running Moon Bear Heroes with whatever donation you can to help get them to their ambitious £10,000 target.