Charity champion gives hospice £13,000 funding boost after running challenge

Marathon man Tony Allen, who raised �10,000 for St Benedict's Hospice in Sunderland by running a marathon a day for a month.
Marathon man Tony Allen, who raised �10,000 for St Benedict's Hospice in Sunderland by running a marathon a day for a month.
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A marathon man has given a hospice a £13,000 boost after his fitness challenges had hundreds of runners pounding the streets.

Tony Allen, 53, from Roker, launched the Red challenge in December, encouraging people to run every day throughout the month.

Sunderland runner Aly Dixon taking part in the 'Run to Rio' campaign to raise funds for St Benedict's Hospice in Sunderland, at St Margaret's Primary School in Durham.

Sunderland runner Aly Dixon taking part in the 'Run to Rio' campaign to raise funds for St Benedict's Hospice in Sunderland, at St Margaret's Primary School in Durham.

It was Tony’s latest bid to raise funds for St Benedict’s Hospice, in Ryhope.

It followed a successful campaign last summer when the dad-of-two encouraged teams of runners, including hundreds of schoolchildren, to run the equivalent of Sunderland to Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil.

The total raised so far by Tony and his challenges has now surpassed £13,000 as he supports the hospice, which gave palliative care to his mum Jeanie, who died five years ago.

The sales executive said: “It can be very hard running in the dark and in sometimes icy conditions, but you’re rarely ever alone running it and the camaraderie keeps you going.

The hospice has a special place in my heart and it’s nice to be able to give something back

Tony Allen

“The hospice has a special place in my heart and it’s nice to be able to give something back.”

The Run to Rio campaign was backed by Sunderland Olympian Aly Dixon.

Her marathon entry at last summer’s Olympics represented the last section of the mileage challenge.

Tony also received celebrity backing for his marathon a day challenge from Caroline Corr, the dummer of rock band The Corrs, and running legend Paula Radcliffe.

He has been supported along the way by his running mates from the Sunderland Strollers, including Anthony Wilton, who joined him on the final leg of his Red challenge and ran 40 miles on the final day.

The total raised by the pair was £1,150, bringing the overall fund beyond £13,000.

Tony set up the Red challenge Facebook group last year, with people signing up for a minimum of a mile every day in December.

It has already attracted more than 700 members across the world.

Catrina Flynn, fundraising manager at St Benedict’s Hospice, said: “We’re so grateful for all that Tony has done for us.

“He’s fantastic at coming up with novel ways to raise funds and he always pushes himself to succeed in a bid to raise as much money as possible.

“His hard work and dedication has certainly paid off.”