Few people would say they enjoy a marathon, but Tony Clarke runs them for fun!
Tony took to running in the most unconventional way, officially starting competitive running with a marathon before moving on to shorter distances.
Which is why, when Tony decided to raise money for Acorns, he knew he wanted to go that extra mile.
Acorns holds a special place in Tony’s heart. The 52 year old is father to Harry. Harry was born in 2004 with cardiomyopathy. He lost his battle with the condition at two and a half years old and came to Acorns. The support his dad Tony and mum Becky received was immeasurable.
Tony explained: “Without the help of Acorns Children’s Hospice, we would have struggled to cope with our grief. Acorns gave us a place of sanctuary. Last year I felt it was time I gave something back to Acorns and I was looking for a new challenge. I would like to say ‘thank you’ to them for all their help and support by raising money by running 12 marathons.
“I started running back in 2012 just to get fit and it’s escalated from there. My first official event was a marathon. Most people start at a 5k and work their way up from there, but I did it backwards.”
Tony started his mega marathon challenge in January with the Gloucester Marathon. Then came the Brighton Marathon in April, Revenge of the Fifth in the Shropshire Hills in May, the Worcester Marathon that same month and the Liverpool Marathon in June. This was quickly followed by the Jurassic Coast Ultra Marathon (63 miles in total).
Tony said: “The biggest challenge was the Ultra Marathon. It was amazing, absolutely amazing. It was pretty brutal because it’s all along the Jurassic Coast and that’s not very flat. But it was an amazing experience and to know that I was running it for Acorns was great.”
If you’re a regular on the marathon circuit, you might have seen Tony along the route. He’s the man in the Acorns running vest – and the bright orange tutu and leg warmers. Often, he’s joined by partner Angie and her friend Mia for the half marathon stretch. They also sport eye-catching fancy dress.
“We get so much attention it’s unreal,” Tony explained.
Next on his list is the Snowdonia Marathon in July, Bath Marathon in August and Forrest Marathon in September. The Bournemouth Marathon Festival follows in October when Tony will run the half marathon on the Saturday morning, the 10k that afternoon and the 5k in the early evening – plus the full marathon on the Sunday!
Tony will tackle the Great Birmingham Run Half Marathon as part of Team Acorns in October before he’s back to his marathon mission in Yorkshire later that month.
He’ll take on the Broadway Marathon in November before completing his mammoth feat in Portsmouth, just three days before Christmas.
Tony’s aim is to raise £1,250 for Acorns and he’s well on his way with £1,044 already pledged in sponsorship.
When the going gets tough, it’s this backing, the support of his family – including Tony’s 72 year old dad who watches his son cross each and every finish line – that keeps him going.
That and the ‘amazing’ crowds cheering runners on. And, of course, there’s Harry.
Tony said: “Every race is different but just knowing I’m doing it for Acorns and Harry’s memory is amazing and wearing that Acorns t-shirt, it’s a reminder you’re doing it for something worthwhile. That spurs you on and gives you a new lease of life.”
If you’ve got an idea for a fantastic fundraising challenge get in touch with our friendly Supporter Services team who’ll be happy to help with any fundraising support, call 01564 825037 or click the button below to email.