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Brunel bud's my marathon motivator


A former student is going all out for an impressive finish time at this year’s London marathon and it’s all because of a friend he met at freshers’ week.

It will be Sam Pickens’ first ever marathon and he’s running to support university friend Rikin Shah and the other 70,000 UK people with muscle-wasting conditions.

After training for Sunday’s 26.2-mile race for the last six months, Sam, from Ruislip, aims to finish in 4 hours 30 mins and raise money for Muscular Dystrophy UK.

Sam, 27, first met Rikin in 2009 when he started studying to be a PE teacher at Brunel University London.

“Rikin was the first face that I saw at Brunel,” said Sam, who now works for broadcaster, Sky. “He was my freshers’ rep and flatmate and helped me settle in quickly. We bonded over a love of football and next year he’ll be an usher at my wedding.

“I’d never met anyone before who has muscular dystrophy but through Rikin I developed an understanding of the condition and was introduced to the world of Powerchair football. He’s an all-round great guy.”

While training round Ruislip in all weathers has been gruelling, Sam will be one of a team of more than 100 MDUK runners on course to raise more than £250,000.

Muscle-wasting conditions weaken muscles including the heart and ones for breathing, leading to increasing severe disability and cutting lives short. There are currently no effective treatments or cures.

“MDUK do great work in seeking a cure for muscular dystrophy. I couldn’t be prouder to be running for them and any donation towards the charity will go a long way to help fight the condition. In a few weeks I’ll swap my sprint finish down Breakspear Road for a dash down the Mall and I can’t wait.

Rikin, 29, from Northwood, studied Business Studies and Sport Science, and the pair coached together. When Sam and some course mates graduated, they were commended by the School of Sport and Education for their work with Special Educational Needs students. “I am very proud of Sam for taking on this gruelling challenge,” said Rikin, who works at Hertz. “He is one of my best friends and I am truly honoured that he is running for me and raising money for MDUK. He has trained hard and I am sure he will complete it under the 4 and half hours.”

Supporters can still sponsor Sam at and follow the pair on Instagram @westham_sam @realrickyshah and Twitter @realrickyshah @westhamsam. Brunel is ranked 11th in the UK for sport, health and exercise sciences; find out more here.


Reported by:

Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268176