Mark Thornberry was the epitome of determination. He was determined to continue his passion for ultra-running, despite being told in 2017 that he had just a few months to live. He was determined to use this passion to raise vital funds for liver cancer research, and he was determined to keep on living.
He defied the odds and, over the next three years, went on to raise over £100,000 for King’s College Hospital Charity by running many gruelling national and international long-distance challenges and inspiring others to do the same.
Mark sadly passed away in June 2020, but his amazing legacy will ensure that scientists at our world-renowned Institute of Liver Studies will gain a greater understanding of liver cancer and hopefully develop more targeted and effective treatments for future patients.
Running for research
Known affectionately as ‘Thorners’ to his many friends and supporters, Mark became a familiar sight around his local Surrey Hills as he trained and prepared for each challenge.
Running helped him physically and mentally as he waged a personal battle against his rare form of liver cancer, known as Hepatocellular Carcinoma, and coped with his cancer treatments.
Undeterred, he went on to smash challenge after challenge. These included:
- running the length of the Grand Union Canal (145 miles) in three days
- running 100 miles across the Sonoran Desert in Arizona
- running the C2C Ultra, a 140-mile continuous foot race from Whitehaven on the Irish Sea to Tynemouth by the North Sea
- taking on the Legend’s Trail – a 155-mile route up through the hills of the Belgian Ardennes
And when he was unable to run, Mark helped other ultra-runners to plan and prepare for their own challenges.
Going the extra mile
Mark always went that extra mile when it came to the time, effort and dedication that he put into supporting the work of the charity. He was positive and resilient and passionate about the urgent need for medical advances to help other people with liver cancer.
“I am frustrated that I cannot be cured but know that every penny I can raise will help the medics better understand liver cancer progressions and allow them to treat people like me in the future.”
- Mark Thornberry
Mark’s aims, thoughts and experiences live on in his blog posts and his good friend, Paul Mason is helping to keep Mark’s legacy alive through his own fundraising challenge: Project 565 Miles – a series of gruelling ultra-runs in 2020 which will raise more money for liver cancer research at King’s.
- Read Mark’s blog: Thorners – running, cancer, fundraising, living.