The Epic Events

When Jane started on her fundraising journey, no one could have predicted what she would go on to achieve.

With a remarkable ability to push herself both mentally and physically, Jane took on a series of challenges that would test the very best athletes in the world.

Below are just some of Jane's endeavours that still inspire people across the globe today.



London Marathon

The 2002 London Marathon was the real beginning of Jane's fundraising and her incredible endurance feats.

Two years earlier, and only 10 months after she was told by doctors she was dying, Jane had entered and run her first 5km in Roundhay Park, Leeds.

Before her diagnosis, Jane had not been particularly sporty. She joked that she could barely jog to the end of the road, hadn't been on a bike since she was a teenager and, while she might have been able to swim a few lengths, certainly wasn't in the habit of powering up and down a pool.

But training for fundraising goals very quickly became an intrinsic part of Jane's life. Jane finished her first London Marathon in 4hrs 53 mins and went on to complete a further two London Marathons

In 2003 Jane became the first person to run a marathon whilst receiving chemotherapy.

For the last two of those hours so great was her agony, distress and exhaustion that she was reduced to tears.


End to End Challenge

John O'Groats to Land's End 2003

In March 2003, Jane and her brother Luke Goward tandem cycled 1,300 miles from Land's End to John O'Groats.

Jane and Luke averaged 50 miles a day in the saddle on the trip. Incredibly, the challenge involved having to break off twice during the three week ride so Jane could return home for her weekly chemotherapy treatment.

Days after finishing the journey, Jane completed her second London Marathon. In July 2008, Mike and Rebecca Tomlinson followed Jane's challenge and led a second End to End Challenge in her honour.

Rome To Home Bike Ride


On May 2, 2004, a very anxious Jane had leaned against the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

It was the eve of her 36-day tandem ride across Italy, France and England with her brother, Luke Goward.

Two weeks earlier a distraught Jane had made a monumental seven hour effort to finish her third London Marathon.

She was tired, drawn and struggling to sit up let alone get on a bike and cycle up to 100 miles a day.

But get on the bike she did and it was in the saddle that she spent the next 2,500 miles.

The ride included one of cycling's most formidable climbs, Mont Ventoux in France.

Jane and Luke were welcomed back to Leeds with a civic reception and by huge crowds of supporters, having raised more than £232,000 in their six week challenge.

Ironman Florida

Ironman Cycle

This was not Jane's last challenge but it was the one of which she was most proud.

On November 6th 2004, Jane became the first cancer patient to complete a full Ironman triathlon (2.4-mile swim/112-mile bike/26-mile full marathon). She crossed the finish line in a time of 15hrs and 47 mins.

Training for the Ironman had been marred by Jane's deteriorating health. Before the London Triathlon in August Jane had developed a chronic heart condition which meant her heart was only working at 60 per cent. In the week leading up to the Ironman she had spent a week so crippled by pain she was barely able to walk.

But despite her agony Jane was on the beach in Panama, Florida at 6.50am ready and waiting for the starting pistol to begin the sea swim that was the first leg of the challenge.

She was accompanied by triathlete Ryan Bowd, who had completed his first Ironman three years previously aged 21 and after three years training.


Ride Across America


In June 2006, Jane began her biggest fundraising event - a 4,200 mile ride across America.

It was a formidable challenge taking her from San Francisco to New York over 10 weeks, with barely 10 rest days and through some frighteningly-harsh conditions.

Massive climbs up to altitudes of 13,000ft, sweltering desert temperatures of up to 110F, gale force winds and even swarms of migrating crickets were among the challenges along the way.

To compound the difficulties, Jane's health was very, very frail and of great concern to all those around her.

Days would begin with Jane barely able to function, but she would still find the courage to get on her bike and cycle for up 12 hours, digging deeper than ever before to continue in spite of her pain, illness and exhaustion.

Jane's co-riders were Ryan Bowd, who had also completed the Florida Ironman with her, and cameraman Martyn Hollingworth, who had joined the Rome to Home ride in 2004.

Click here to watch the documentary, Jane Tomlinson: Across the USA. 

Jane's Fundraising Challenges

  • I'm delighted to support the Leeds 10K. Jane, a Sparks vice-president herself, was a truly inspirational figure who became our biggest-ever individual fundraiser.

    Sir Matthew Pinsent CBE
    Four-time Olympic Gold Medallist

    Sir Matthew Pinsent CBE
  • I was lucky enough to call Jane a friend and like many was touched by her determination and drive to make a difference to many millions of people's lives, despite battling with her own cruel illness.

    Steve Cram OBE
    Olympic Silver Medalist

    Steve Cram OBE
  • Jane's unwavering determination, strength courage and selflessness in the face of adversity is an inspiration to each and every one of us. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to play a part in making sure that Jane's memory and legacy lives in the great work of the Appeal.

    Chrissie Wellington
    Four time World Ironman Champion

    Chrissie Wellington
  • Jane led the way on many occasions with inspirational feats that left us all in awe of her absolute determination and keen desire to help others.

    Nell McAndrew
    Jane Tomlinson Appeal Patron

    Nell McAndrew
  • It is a huge honour for me to be a patron of the Jane Tomlinson Appeal. Jane was such a very special person. Her bravery, courage and strength were a huge inspiration to me, and I am sure to so many others. She fought cancer every step with such passion and positivity.

    Paula Radcliffe MBE

    Paula Radcliffe MBE