THE widower of late charity fundraiser Jane Tomlinson CBE has said that a marathon dedicated to her legacy is a dream come true.
Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon, which has attracted more than 500 entries within two hours of its launch, may well be the biggest event of its kind in northern England, Mike Tomlinson said.
The run, in York on October 20, is organised by Jane Tomlinson’s For All Events which already stages the successful Leeds, York, Hull and Pennine-Lancashire 10Ks and the Leeds half marathon.
For All Events was set up by the Tomlinson family as a legacy to the late Yorkshire fundraiser and campaigner who raised almost £2 million for charity by tackling a series of incredible endurance challenges despite having terminal cancer.
Mr Tomlinson said that despite his wife’s original fundraising target being just £5,000 10 years ago, £4.5 million has now been raised for charity, adding: “This is just a dream.”
He said: “We started off with one run in 2007, the year Jane died. Now we’ve got four 10Ks, a half marathon, this marathon, three walking festivals in the Peak District, Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, and a swim.
“I’m hoping that this will be the biggest marathon in the north of England and the way it’s started today and the buzz and the atmosphere, it’s probably well on the way to being that. It’ll be a national event.
“This is the iconic city of the north of England and, added to that, it’s very flat.
“If Jane was alive and she was well, she’d be here and running because this was her favourite place to run round.”
A clutch of celebrities from the county, including cricket legend Dickie Bird, TV football pundit Chris Kamara and double Paralympic gold medalist Hannah Cockroft, helped launch the Yorkshire Marathon at York’s Clifford’s Tower.
Bird, who met Mrs Tomlinson during her fundraising, said she was a “fine lass” who would be “very proud”.
He said: “It’s a wonderful choice to come to York. I’ve always liked this city. I hope it’s a fine day. It’s for a tremendous cause and Jane will be looking down on the marathon.
“I think it’ll do a lot for York and a lot for Yorkshire. It’s the greatest county in the world - coming from a Yorkshireman I’ve got to say that - but I’m so proud to be a Yorkshireman living in this great county.”
Kamara said he is supporting the marathon because of the difference Mrs Tomlinson made to the lives of others.
“She was an inspiration to me, she’s been an inspiration to other people,” he said.
“Some people, when they’re diagnosed with terminal cancer, give up. Other people decide that they’re going to make the most of it. Then there’s saints, and she was a saint.
“To run through the pain that she did, and the courage she showed, and the determination she showed; she was just a marvellous person.”
Runners will be able to raise funds for any cause of their choice or one of the event’s partner charities: Martin House Children’s Hospice, Macmillan Cancer Support, Yorkshire Cancer Research, Parkinson’s UK, the Haven, Clic Sargent, Candlelighters, St Leonard’s Hospice, Sue Ryder Care and the Jane Tomlinson Appeal.
The Yorkshire Post is a media partner for the event.