75 Marathons in 85 Days for Dr Tom Crossland – fighting for human rights

On 2 Jun Dr Tom Crossland, Hull Alumnus and NHS Clinical Psychologist, started a huge challenge to run 75 marathons in 85 days around the coast of England and Wales to raise awareness about the extent of modern day slavery and human trafficking. He is inviting fellow HullAlumni to support him by running alongside him for a mile or two when he is in your area.

After 16 days of running, Tom has raised £7,000 towards a target of £20,000 to support TRIBE Freedom Foundation (http://tribefreedomfoundation.com), a UK charity that works to fight modern slavery across the UK and to end human trafficking by supporting survivors.

TRIBE, whose projects include the first UK home for trafficked children, are raising awareness of the issue of trafficking and modern slavery, providing funding and support for frontline projects to fight modern slavery and working on projects which empower survivors with the long-term support to overcome their previous exploitation.

Tom Crossland was born with cerebral palsy. He was unable to walk until he was over 3 years old and as he grew up, he found it difficult to maintain his balance and stay on his feet. Running never came naturally to him. It still takes daily training, strengthening work and huge effort to keep running. It’s only through years of hard work, determination, persistence and meticulous planning that he has been able to complete ultra-endurance running challenges, such as the 180 mile Grand 2 Grand Ultra, from the Grand Canyon. 

There is limited research on ageing and cerebral palsy, but it is clear that people’s physical ability can decrease quickly as they age and so Tom is determined to get as much out of life, doing what he loves, whilst he still can.

‘I fell over all the time… I had a permanent hole in the left knee of my trousers and a permanent graze on my left hip. This never stopped me from being active, however, and taught me that success is not measured by how many times you fall over but by how many times you get up.’ said Tom. 

Talking about why he wants to support trafficking survivors, Tom says: Through my work and adventuring I have developed a deep gratitude for being born in the UK and the freedoms this allows. I am passionate about fighting for human rights. Over the past few years, there have been large numbers of people entering Europe in search of asylum, freedom and safety. The reality is that in their desperation, people will put themselves in incredibly dangerous situations, increasing their vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation, through their attempts to reach mainland Europe and the UK.’

Recently Tom passed through Hull, his route taking him through campus where he studied Psychology at undergraduate level (2006) and at PhD level (2010).

‘I felt surprisingly emotional on returning I loved revisiting some of my old homes and the university. It has inspired me to come back and stay for longer,’ says Tom. ‘I loved my time at Hull, I was a student at the university for six years. The first 3 as an undergraduate and then the last year completing my doctorate. I was heavily involved in the rowing club for my time at Hull and this made my time particularly brilliant.’

After 16 days of running, Tom has raised over £7000 and has had incredible support from volunteers running with him for different sections of the run – his full route is available on his website, so if anyone would like to run a few miles (or more) with Tom, get in touch.

If you would like to support Tom’s run by making a donation, finding out when he is in your area and supporting him by running alongside him for a mile or two, or taking part in a virtual challenge, you can find out more on his website >>

More details can be found at www.runtorefuge.com and @runtorefuge on Instagram / Facebook / Twitter

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