Tackling prostate cancer one marathon at a time

February, 2019

In 2010, Tom's dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Tom and his mum thought they would have another 10 years with him. In the end, he died within two years. Tom Maples' dad, John, had a very aggressive strain of prostate cancer that spread very quickly. 

Now, 6 years on from his dad's death, Tom is taking on a huge challenge in his honour.

In April I'm doing the Marathon des Sables, which will see me run 150 miles acoss the Sahara Desert in under a week. This will mean that I will run a marathon every day, apart from one day, when I'll run a double marathon instead. 

Why, you ask, do I not just run a normal marathon? Well, I was talking to a friend of mine who is a doctor. We were discussing raising money for charity through races and he told me that he'd only sponsor someone if the thought of that particular person undertaking that challenge made him laugh derisively. As a young man, and a former soldier, I thought I should undertake something a little more arduous than a usual marathon. 

So that's how I ended up signing up for an ultra-marathon through the desert. 

What makes a marathon ultra?

Well, you have to carry all your belongings with you. That means all of your food, your clothes, and your medical supplies. This will probably mean that I'll be carrying a 10kg bag with me each day. We'll run for more than 12 hours a day and, on the double marathon day, we'll run for almost the full 24 hours. 

At the end of each day, we finish up by sleeping on the desert floor under some tarpaulin. I'm going to have some ex-army pals running alongside me and, through our time in the army we've experienced things that have required us to be very mentally tough. That being said, I think this is going to challenge us more than anything we've encountered before. 

Getting Desert Ready

I've already been doing some heat training in Iraq. That was quite an experience as, in a land of IEDs (explosives that have been planted into the ground) you have to be very careful where you're putting your feet. 

I'm no longer in Iraq, however, as I've uprooted my life and am currently settling myself into a very wintery Washington DC. So, to prepare myself for the heat that I'm going to be facing in the Sahara, I shall be training in special heat chambers at the university here. I'll be doing lots of sprint training, so that I'll be used to the hills, and I'll be doing a lot of core training, to make sure that I'll be strong enough to carry 10kg of luggage with me each day. 

Helping others like my dad

I have seen how brutal prostate cancer is but I have also seen what a difference TUF makes. The urologist who looked after my dad was a big supporter of The Urology Foundation. After he died, this urologist showed my mum and I how the charity is working hard, through research and through training surgeons, to make sure that no more men have to die the way that my father did. That's something I can get behind. 

Tom is hoping to raise £50k with his ultra-marathon. If you'd like to sponsor him, you can do so here



Read more


Read more


Read more

Male reproductive organs

Read more