Sunday, 14 April 2024
Sunday, 14 April 2024

Eight marathons in eight weeks to raise £8k for Muscular Dystrophy UK

On Sunday 3 March, personal trainer Tom Penzer Adams, 36, from Lichfield, Staffordshire completed the Tokyo Marathon in 2:58:28. This was the first run of his ‘eight marathons in eight weeks’ challenge, which he is doing in support of his close friends living with muscular dystrophy.

In total, Tom will be running 209 miles – finishing with the London Marathon on Sunday 21 April – and hopes to raise £8,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK, the leading charity for more than 110,000 people in the UK living with one of over 60 muscle wasting and weakening conditions.

Tom’s marathon challenge stems from friendship and not being very good at golf. Tom explained: 

“I met my friend, Jonny Evans, at secondary school, The Friary in Lichfield. We ended up in New Zealand together during our gap year and played rugby all through our 20s. He was an usher at my wedding, and I was one at his – he’s one of my closest friends.”

Jonny’s older brothers, Gary, 43, and Paul, 41, both have muscular dystrophy and every year, their family organise a charity golf day.

Tom said:

“I’m rubbish at golf and didn’t feel I could get involved. So, I came up with the idea of a multiple marathon running challenge to show my support for Gary and Paul. Looking back, it probably would have been a lot easier to have a couple of golf lessons and give everybody the satisfaction of watching me swing a golf club!”

Tom started running in 2021 during one of the covid lockdowns and has run seven marathons since then. He has set the bar high and would love to do all the marathons in his challenge in under three hours.

Tom added:

“Tokyo was an amazing experience and there was a great atmosphere. I’ve never had to work so hard for a sub-three-hour marathon though as both hamstrings were cramping from about 30km. But I kept stopping and stretching and just managed to stay ahead of the three-hour pacers! I can say hand on heart I am looking forward to running all eight marathons. Of course, it will be hard, but I just keep reminding myself why I’m doing it. I take a lot of inspiration from Gary and Paul and am doing this for them and the rest of their family.”

Tom’s ‘Eight Marathons in Eight Weeks’ challenge:

  1. Tokyo Marathon, Sunday 3 March
  2. Cambridge Boundary Run, Sunday 10 March
  3. Great Welsh Marathon, Carmarthenshire, Sunday 17 March
  4. The Great British Seaside Marathon, Skegness, Saturday 23 March
  5. Lichfield Cathedral (100 laps of Cathedral Close), Easter Monday 1 April
  6. Brighton Marathon, Sunday 7 April
  7. Boston Marathon, Monday 15 April
  8. London Marathon, Sunday 21 April

The fifth run will be particularly poignant as it will be a community event. Taking place at Lichfield Cathedral on Easter Monday, 1 April, Tom will run 100 laps of the cathedral and hopes that some people will join him to take part. In addition to various fundraising activities on the day, TV Chef Tom Shepherd, owner of the city’s Michelin-starred ‘Upstairs’ restaurant, will be providing his Great British Menu winning ‘Desperate Dan’ pie for spectators with proceeds going to Muscular Dystrophy UK.

The Evans family will also be at Lichfield Cathedral cheering Tom on. Speaking about what the challenge means to the family, Gary, Paul and Jonny’s mum, Christine Evans said: 

“I just can’t get over Tom’s incredible challenge and we’re so grateful for the effort he’s putting in – not just the running itself but the organisation behind it all.”

Neither Gary nor Paul have received an official diagnosis, but their condition presents like Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy (LGMD), so the money raised for Muscular Dystrophy UK from Tom’s eight marathon challenge will go towards LGMD research.

Eight marathons in eight weeks to raise £8k for Muscular Dystrophy UK

Christine said:

“We were always such a sporty family. The boys all played rugby and we used to go on family skiing holidays together. It’s heartbreaking watching your children slowly lose the ability to do things they love. But we try to focus on things we have to look forward to, like Gary getting married in May, which will be a special day!”

Tom’s eight-week challenge will see him travel around the UK, from Skegness to Brighton, as well as taking part in overseas marathons in Tokyo and Boston. He is currently on track to exceed his £8,000 fundraising target having already raised over £7,000. He has also received words of encouragement from running legends like Paula Radcliffe MBE and Paralympic Gold medallist Richard Whitehead MBE. 

Phil Heighway, Regional Development Manager at Muscular Dystrophy UK said: 

“This is certainly a unique challenge and we’re so grateful to Tom for his fundraising efforts. The fact that he is taking on the challenge in support of his friends, Gary and Paul, is inspirational and it’s great to see his local community get behind him. Thanks to fundraising like this, we can continue to improve our understanding of muscular dystrophy, provide advice and support to those who need it, and help accelerate new treatments. Thank you, and good luck for the rest of the challenge, Tom!” 

Follow Tom’s challenge at: www.justgiving.com/page/tom-penzer-adams-8-marathons-in-8weeks.

Find out more about Muscular Dystrophy UK at: www.musculardystrophyuk.org.

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