Running eight marathons over eight weeks in the name of friendship

A man standing in front of Lichfield cathedral. His back is to the camera. He wears a Muscular Dystrophy UK running vest. It is bright orange and teal.
Personal trainer Tom Penzer Adams is running eight marathons in eight weeks in support of his close friends living with muscular dystrophy. In total, he will be running 209 miles to raise money for our work. His challenge starts in Tokyo on 3 March and finishes in London at the end of April.

The 8 in 8 challenge

This whole challenge stemmed from me being rubbish at golf. Gary and Paul’s younger brother, Jonny, is one of my closest friends. We met in secondary school. Then ended up in New Zealand together in our gap year and played rugby together all through our 20s. Jonny was an usher at my wedding. I was one at his. So, we're really good friends.

His family organise a charity golf day every year as both Jonny’s brothers have muscular dystrophy. It probably would have been a lot easier just to have a couple of golf lessons and give everybody the satisfaction of watching me swing a golf club. But I felt like I should be doing more to help Gary and Paul and the idea spiralled from there.

Setting the bar high

I only got into running in 2021, so I must have done seven or eight marathons so far. I played rugby before that, but then lockdown came along and I needed something to fill the void, so I started running. I did my first marathon in November that year. So far, I’ve done four of the World Marathon Major, and after this challenge I will have ran The Big Six.

I ran my fastest marathon in two hours and 42 minutes, and I would like to get a personal best over the eight weeks. I’m going to target Tokyo because I’ll be fresh going into that one, but I’d love to do them all in under three hours.

Motivation is everything

I take a lot of inspiration from Gary and Paul’s condition. I could easily do these marathons in four hours each, but I want it to be hard because what they have to live with is hard. 

So many disabled people would love to do a marathon. It's a privilege to be able to run and I try to remind myself of that.

I can say hand on heart I am looking forward to running all eight marathons. Of course, it will be hard, but I just love the adrenaline. It gives me goosebumps thinking about it. I know there'll be times when I'm in the middle of nowhere in Skegness, and I’ll think what the hell am I doing? But right now, I'm looking forward to all of them. When it gets hard, I’ll remind myself of why I’m doing this.

It means more now than ever

Since I came up with the idea, Gary has had a difficult time. He was in intensive care for six weeks over Christmas and then had his specially adapted car stolen. His mobility has really suffered since, and he needs a lot of new adaptions to his house. Paul still has quite a lot of mobility, but it must be so scary for him too, because he’s essentially seeing his future first hand in Gary.

Gary and Paul’s mum, Christine, will be at the Lichfield marathon cheering Tom on. She spoke about what Tom’s challenge means to the family.

Christine: It’s quite ironic that we were always such a sporty family. I was a PE teacher before I retired, and my husband was a rugby player. The boys had always been involved in rugby too, and we used to go on 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 to look forward to.

Gary is getting married in May which will be such a special day.

Neither of my boys have received an official diagnosis, but all the doctors say their condition presents like Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, so the JustGiving donations will be going to LGMD research. We’re hoping that some of the sponsorship money will go to my sons’ family fund for Gary’s home adaptions. He’s been having to sleep in the lounge since his hospital stay as he can’t get upstairs.

I just can’t get over Tom’s incredible challenge. We’re so grateful for the amount of effort he’s putting in. It’s not just the runs, it’s the whole organisation he’s doing that’s unbelievable.


You can support Tom’s fundraiser and track his progress here:

To find how you can run a marathon for us, or take part in one of our challenge events go to: All Events | Muscular Dystrophy UK.