A rugby fan from Bolton is running six half marathons in the Six Nations countries to raise money for The Christie Charity in memory of his dad.
Thomas Relph, 37, and his dad, Mark enjoyed watching England’s Six Nations matches together at Twickenham.
Mark was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in January 2021 and underwent a series of treatments at The Christie Hospital in Manchester, but sadly died last year aged 66.
Thomas wanted to honour his dad’s memory and decided to take up the challenge and tie it to something they were both so passionate about – rugby.
“I’ve wanted to do something to raise money since my dad was diagnosed but I had just become a dad myself and there was a lot we couldn’t do due to COVID.”
At the time, he couldn’t visit his dad due to COVID restrictions in hospitals.
“We couldn’t go in and support him, but the staff were brilliant with him and gave him the best care.”
The Christie is a specialist cancer centre in Manchester treating over 60,000 patients a year.
It is one of Europe’s largest experimental cancer medicine centres and an international leader in research with around 650 clinical studies being carried out at any one time.
As a child, Thomas played for his school team and continued as an adult for various local sides.
“My mum was never one for getting up early on a Saturday morning so it was always Dad who took us here, there and everywhere.”
When he went to University, Thomas played for Sheffield Medics Rugby Club and upon his return, he and his brother played for Bolton.
“My dad would come along to watch us play and have a beer with us after.”
After signing up for the Cardiff half-marathon, he got the Six Nations idea and by the end of the day, he’d signed up for another five.
Thomas is currently in training ahead of his first event in March:
“It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be. I’m getting in two, three runs a week to try and make sure I get the miles in the legs.”
Thomas’s first half-marathon will take place in Paris on Sunday 3rd March before he travels to Florence in April and onto Edinburgh in May. He takes on the Belfast half-marathon in September before he completes his challenge in October in Cardiff followed by Manchester on Sunday 13th October.
Thomas has a lot of support along the way. His wife and son will be in the crowd cheering him on in every city.
He shall run the Paris half-marathon alone but will be joined by different friends and family members in the other cities, including his brother Oliver who will run alongside him in Manchester.
His cousin Madeline, whose mum was also treated at The Christie, will join him for one of the races too.
Thomas added: “I’ve got a friend Dave, who’s a physio who’s going to put me back together afterwards!”
Alicia Gaffey, Sporting Events Coordinator at The Christie Charity said: “We’re so grateful to Thomas for undertaking such a huge challenge, taking on six half-marathons and raising money for The Christie Charity. His fundraising will make a tremendous difference to patients, and we wish him all the luck.”
Thomas will be giving regular updates on his Just Giving page as he prepares for each event.