The London-based ultramarathon-runner and cancer survivor will start his 344-mile attempt from Mizen Head in County Cork, Ireland’s most southern point, at 3.15pm this coming Thursday 11 May 2017 – exactly 40 years since his birth.
Tom is aiming to get to Malin Head in County Donegal, Ireland’s most northern point, in under 3 days, 15 hours and 36 minutes (87 hours and 36 minutes) in order to beat the current official Guinness World Record, held by Mimi Anderson.*
“My sole motivation in attempting this Guinness World Record - to be the fastest person to run the length of Ireland - is to raise awareness for testicular cancer and its early detection,” says Tom, who founded Bustin’ Your Balls (BYB) to help grow this awareness.
Indeed Tom has been battling the odds much of his life. When he was just 20 months old, he suffered from post-viral encephalitis and was treated with steroids for six months. “As a result, I lost my balance and couldn't walk for several months,” he says. “I remained unsteady on my feet for two more years and wore a helmet for much of that time to protect me. I had problems with general coordination for another year. Once I got back to normal health though, I became very good at sport.”
Tom also had an operation to have his testicles lowered as they were undescended (not in their usual place in the scrotum. The NHS estimate about one in 25 boys are born with undescended testicles.)
“My school and college life wasn’t a happy time,” he says. “I wasn’t great academically but sport became my sanctuary.
“I was a very good hockey player, excelled at running, was a good cyclist and triathlete – which gave me the opportunity to train with elite athletes and future Olympians, and I was coaching kids at a young age.”
After college, Tom was a youth worker and then became employed in hospitality, working in several London Michelin- star restaurants.
But at 27 he was diagnosed with stage IV testicular cancer. “I was told I would die,” he says. “My chances of survival were not good.”
But treatment began. Tom had chemotherapy, followed by high-dose chemotherapy, a stem-cell transplant and major surgery. After one year, with sheer perseverance, support from my family and incredible medical treatment, I beat the cancer!”
Since his remarkable victory, Tom has made it his mission to raise awareness of testicular cancer through sport. “I have competed in multiple triathlons, duathlons, a half-Ironman, half and full marathons, and many ultramarathons, the longest being 368-miles (unsupported). My mission is to raise awareness for testicular cancer and its early detection and inspire people to never, never give up”.
Tom will be running through Ireland’s towns and villages wearing his Bustin’ Your Balls (BYB) kit, while his crew go ahead of him handing out leaflets with testicular cancer awareness advice. Posters will also be sent ahead to places Tom will be passing through to inform them he is coming.
“My mantra has become ‘Never, never give up’ – be it sport or illness, you just have to push as hard as possible to reach your target. If it’s something you truly believe in, you will do anything to achieve it”.
You can follow Tom’s progress live, from 3.15pm on 11 May 2017, here:
Visit his website: http://www.bustinyourballs.org
Or phone him: 07709108252
Thank you for your time.
* Eoin Keith recently completed this course in 3 days, 3 hours and 47 minutes (75 hours and 47 minutes). His record is awaiting verification with Guinness World Records.