By Dean Edgar
This month I have the pleasure to catch up with Marc Jenner, 42, who arrived here in May 2010 and, as you will see, his time here has been as eventful as it’s been successful.
What were you doing in the UK and why did you choose to leave?
I had been living and working in Los Angeles for a number of years, before returning to the UK for a year. When I was asked to consider helping a UK charity working in Romania, it sounded like a great challenge. I planned to be here to see out a one year contract but that was almost 8 years ago.
The pros and cons of Romania?
I think the majority of expats will highlight the cost of living in Bucharest against the expense of a city like London. But there is a lot more to Romania than that. Being in a city that offers stunning Black Sea beaches in one direction and the beauty of the Carpathians in the other is amazing.
Why the backpack challenge for your world record attempts?
I began marathon running back in 1997, and the London Marathon quickly became a regular date in the diary. It was a great excuse for my friends and family to come together for a day, and I really enjoyed helping out some charities along the way. However, in 2015, I wanted to do something extra special for my Mum who was in the final stages of terminal cancer. She was always my biggest supporter and had travelled all over to watch me run, and to offer support to others in the race. She absolutely loved it. Over a pint with a few of my closest friends, they decided it would be fun for me to attempt a real World Record. Not necessarily break one, but at least train for something a little unusual. I was never going to be the fastest conventionally, so eventually we settled on maybe trying something that requires more strength than speed. That’s how I ended up attempting my first record carrying a 36 kilogram pack (80 pounds in old money!).
That’s almost two of the large plastic water containers that sit on top of a dispenser! That was in 2015 but last year he exceeded even that by completing the same feat, running the London Marathon, but carrying 100 pounds, that’s 45.5kg. For the record he managed that in 6 hours and 43 minutes which is pretty astonishing when you think about it.
Any more world record attempts, if so, at what?
I really am tempted, although my girlfriend has told me I am not allowed to! I’d like to attempt one more in the next few years, which would be the Fastest Marathon Carrying A Fridge or Washing Machine. Sounds tough, but in reality the weight would be less than half that which I carried in 2017. I’ll run the 2018 London Marathon “normally” for once, and see how I feel after that.
How does the involvement of foreigners in local charities have an impact here in Romania?
Certainly in my time here, the expertise of charity workers coming to Romania has really helped NGOs, particularly when it comes to fundraising. The charity sector was not that well viewed in Romania during the 90s and 00s, but many charities have worked hard to show transparency and professionalism to ensure they build a deserved level of trust in the community.
What have been your greatest achievements with your charity work?
It’s tough to highlight just one thing in more than 20 years of charity work, both on a professional and personal basis. But I would say that raising over £12,000 for a Hospice charity after my mum passed away is right up there. She lost her fight to cancer in May 2015, and in 2016, my two sisters and brother joined me to run the London Marathon in her memory. We had hoped to raise around £5,000 for the charity, but the generosity of friends and family was quite amazing. I have secured major six figure charity donations in a professional capacity before, but the £12,000 we raised that day maybe meant more than anything else I have accomplished.
You have been involved in the Olympics, what have you done and how much fun was it?
I was lucky enough to be hired as Chief Liaison Officer for the 2012 Games in London. This job basically entails facilitating athletes and competitors as they perform their interview obligations right after their event has finished. I was lucky enough to be assigned to Wimbledon for the tennis, and then moved on to the Olympic Stadium for the entire athletics programme. It was an absolute privilege to be behind the scenes and up-close to one of the greatest sports events the world has ever seen. Off the back of this, I performed the same role at the 2013 Australian Open Tennis Championships in Melbourne, and then again at the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
When did you start the Quiz Night, why and what are your plans for the future?
I had been in Bucharest for around 8 or 9 months, and as is the way, made a good group of pals, both ex-pat and Romanian. What was obvious to me, was that there was little in the way of variety on a night out. It’s not that the local live music scene was bad, far from it, it just felt like we needed something a bit different on a regular basis. I had hosted a regular quiz in the City of London for many years, and felt that maybe a few people would be interested in doing it here. So, working with the owners of Mojo, we put the word out and hoped a few people would come along. The first quiz was a real success, with maybe 80 people attending, far more than we expected. We put a date in for the following month and that number doubled. The number of people coming still astonishes me, and I cannot thank them enough for their continued support. Some have been coming since day one, and others are still just discovering it for the first time.
Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years time, still in Romania?
I am not sure where I’ll be. Retired hopefully! But wherever I am and whatever I am doing I will retain a business and personal life in Romania.
In 2018 Marc will be running the London Marathon in his Mum’s memory for Family Holiday Association. You can support here www.justgiving.com/fundraising/run4sue