The 52-year-old from Roker, Sunderland, is undertaking the tough assignment – the equivalent of running to Milan – to raise funds for St Benedict’s Hospice, at Ryhope, which gave palliative care to his late mum.
Tony’s 26 miles will be mostly undertaken at night, fitting around his day job as a sales executive at SG Petch, in Darlington, County Durham.
“Last year I ran 16 miles every day in December and raised £2,000 for the hospice. This year, I thought I’d run a marathon every day,” said Tony.
“It will be hard. There will be no rest days and I’ll still be running on Christmas Day and Boxing Day, but really, once you’re over the first week you start to become a bit immune to it and it becomes easier to just keep running. Bizarrely you don’t feel it. I just pop my music on and run. I love it.
“My mum passed away with cancer four years ago and the hospice were great. They came out with a palliative care team and looked after her at the house. The service was brilliant and it’s nice to give something back.”
Tony’s passion for running began when he turned 40 and his ‘corporate beer belly’ meant he could barely bend over to reach his toes.
“That was the turning point for me,” he said. “I was so fat I literally got up one morning and I couldn’t even tie my own shoelaces. I thought I need to do something about this.”
So Tony started running. And running. He began with the Great North Run and progressed to ultra marathons, such as the Lakeland 100, which entails running 105 miles in 38 hours. Along the way, he lost two stone and has found a hobby for life.
He has also started the RED club (Run Everyday in December) which has gathered more than 500 members on Facebook. It has captured the imagination of people worldwide with runners as far as New Zealand taking up the challenge and sharing their efforts with the group.
For Tony’s own December challenge, he doesn’t have set routes and some of his Sunderland Stroller pals will be joining him for parts. He estimates it will take between 4 and 5.5hours per day to run each day’s 26 miles – a total of 832 miles – and expects to burn off around 104,000 calories along the way.
He plans to get the Christmas Day run out of the way first thing, then he can enjoy his turkey with wife Janet and children Charlotte, 20, and James, 24.
“They do think I’m mad, but they’re very supportive,” he laughed.
Catrina Flynn, fundraising manager at St Benedict’s Hospice, said: “We’re so grateful to Tony for his fantastic challenge and we’ll be cheering him on. He’s very determined and committed so we’ve no doubts that he will succeed.”
Tony is raising funds for the hospice through is Virgin Money Giving page. For more info log onto Tony’s marathon challenge