Terry Fox Day


Terry Fox







The first Monday in August is celebrated in most of Canada as a Civic Holiday. It is celebrated as Terry Fox Day in Manitoba, in honour of the Manitoba-born athlete.

Prompted by this, Mayo AC member James Murtagh has linked Terry Fox’s amazing story and inspirational achievement with his own journey in recent years.

In particular, James is keen to remind people that fundraisers can gain entry to events such as marathons through applying for places which have been allocated by race organisations to charities.
Terry Fox Day
I’m writing this after being reminded of Terry Fox on Strava today (Monday August 1).
Most of you might be a little young to remember Canadian Terry Fox, a remarkable young man, who died in 1981 from cancer at the age of 22, but I can remember well following the story at the time.
Terry was diagnosed at 18 with an osteogenic sarcoma above his right knee, resulting in his leg being amputated.
After his treatment finished and he saw first-hand the experiences of his fellow patients in the children’s cancer wards, he decided to train for a ‘Marathon of Hope’, to raise funds for cancer research and help bring an end to the suffering caused by cancer.
His mission was to traverse his country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, running an average of nearly 42km per day. In the end, he never got to the Pacific, as the only thing that could stop him, did. His cancer returned, this time in his lungs. After 143 days, he had covered a total of 5,373 kilometres and stopped in over 400 cities, towns and schools to talk about why he was running. Some days he had hundreds of supporters, others he ran alone, through heat, humidity, wind, rain and snow, with just his best friend Doug driving alongside. All this with an artificial leg! Even after he had to stop, he continued from his hospital bed to ask Canadians to support his ‘Marathon of Hope’ and to continue to give to cancer research.

Terry Fox Toronto 1980

Terry died on 28th June, 1981, at the age of 22.
In 2015, his home province of Manitoba designated the first Monday in August every year as a civic holiday called Terry Fox Day. The Terry Fox Foundation established the Terry Fox Run in 1988 and each year since. It takes place all over Canada and around the world and has raised over $850 million to date.
You may be wondering why I’m writing this.
Last Saturday, at Castlebar Parkrun, a club member asked me if I had gotten my place in the 2019 London Marathon by public ballot or by good-for-age category. The answer was neither. I offered to raise money for a charity highlighted that year by the London Marathon organisers.
In my case, I chose Brain Research UK and pledged to raise £2,000 for their organisation. And I chose them for good reason. My late Dad, Joe, died in March 2011 from Alzheimer’s at 79. He passed away five weeks after I had undergone my first of two brain surgeries to remove a tumour diagnosed a week before Christmas 2010.
Subsequently, I had surgery to remove a regrowth in February 2014. Thankfully, it’s a slow-growing cancer and I’m being regularly monitored with MRIs by a team of specialists. After watching my daughter, Jennifer, run the 2014 Dublin Marathon in aid of Beaumont Hospital, I decided I could do the same, so I joined Fit4Life in Castlebar in January 2015. I completed my first couple of marathons in aid of Beaumont Hospital, my treatment centre, and raised almost €8,000 in the process.
My reason for highlighting Terry Fox’s story and my own experience is to let people know that their dream marathons are within reach, even without a good enough time, or taking a chance with the ballot odds.
All the ‘Majors’ operate similar charity schemes to the London Marathon and there are many ways you can go about raising money. I recommend choosing a charity that has a broad appeal – in my case, I chose Brain Research UK, rather than The Brain Tumour Charity, as brain cancers are only 2-3% of all cancers and mine is only 3% of that small number.
Almost everyone knows someone affected by Alzheimer’s, Motor Neurone, stroke, epilepsy and other neurological diseases. Research takes place all over the world and is shared with every country, so the jurisdiction of the charity wouldn’t be an issue. Look for an organisation that has a similar mass appeal.
Running in the 2019 London Marathon is one of my life’s highlights. It took place in April that year. I was training through the winter, often doing long runs alone after dark or very early in the morning. The day itself was fantastic. Travelling out to Greenwich on the train was exciting and seeing tens of thousands of fellow runners, some in crazy outfits, still makes my heart beat faster. Approximately one million people lined the route, so there was a constant noise of cheering, bands playing and DJ music the whole way, some places so loud that I had to cover my ears.
Two of my daughters (I have four wonderful girls!), family and friends, including many members of the Mayo AC, were all incredibly supportive and encouraging on the race day. Some of them even made it in person, cheering me on from the sidelines just when I needed it.
And of course, there’s the route itself. Running alongside iconic landmarks such as the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and, my favourite, Tower Bridge is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that sticks with me to this day. You can see participants while watching the race on television, but you simply can’t beat being there.
Incidentally, it was the year where Mayo AC member Sinéad Diver finished 7th in the women’s race in a personal best time of 2:24:11. That made me feel very proud to be a Mayo Man. 💚❤️
All this is to say, that without a doubt the work that went into raising money for a charity was absolutely worth it to run in one of the world’s best and biggest marathon races.
Life is short and it’s a day you’ll never forget, so don’t wait to investigate how you can achieve your race dream.
Thank you so much for reading.

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