Friday 22 September 2017

Fridge-run man 'humbled' by support

Tony Phoenix-Morrison completes his John O'Groats to Lands End run with a fridge on his back
Tony Phoenix-Morrison completes his John O'Groats to Lands End run with a fridge on his back

A superfit grandfather has been "humbled" by the support he has received after he managed to run the length of Britain with a 42.5kg fridge on his back.

Tony Phoenix-Morrison, 49, pulled off the epic John O'Groats to Lands End feat in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, which funds cancer research.

Better known as "Tony the Fridge", the fundraiser took 41 days to cover the 1,009 miles - almost a marathon a day - with the heavy kitchen appliance on his back.

Tony, from Hebburn, South Tyneside, has carried out other fridge-based challenges and last year ran 30 half-marathons in 30 days similarly weighed down for the foundation. He also ran for 24 hours for the good cause.

But this trial of endurance was his toughest yet.

He said: "When I set out on this challenge, I genuinely had no idea how far I'd get.

"I wanted to try something so hard that nobody could be certain of its outcome.

"All I could do was try to prepare myself physically and mentally as best I could.

"At the end of this I feel humbled really. I've had so much support and generosity from the British public from the top of Scotland all the way down to the bottom of England.

"It's not just been the donations to the charity.

"People have fed and watered me all over the place and I've had umpteen physio treatments. One physio, Gavin Cree, helped me out the blue when I really needed it just before I got to Newcastle.

"And then he came all the way down to London to sort out my dodgy hip again for me.

"I could go on all day about the kindness I've been shown.

"But honestly, without all the messages online and people honking their horns in support I know I couldn't have done this."

The fridge run caught the public's imagination and he has received hundreds of tweets from surprised passers-by who have spotted him pounding the roads.

The final total of what he has raised is not yet known but the foundation estimated it to be in the tens of thousands. Fridge manufacturers Smeg, who sponsored him, have handed over a £40,000 cheque.

Tony ran for around seven hours each day. His route through Scotland took him from John O'Groats to Inverness and over the Cairngorms, tackling ascents of 1,500 ft, then into Edinburgh.

He then ran south through Newcastle and passed through County Durham, Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.

After Leicester, he ran through Milton Keynes and London. Finally, he ran south west reaching the coast at Southampton and followed the coastline past Exeter to Land's End.

Smeg MD Mike Giddings met him at the finish, and said: "It's an honour and a privilege to support him raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and to watch him come over the finish line at Land's End was a moving experience.

"The cause is such a strong one and we wanted to contribute and put something back into the communities we serve.

"The grit and determination shown by Tony is outstanding and we're delighted to see him complete his impossible journey, overcoming so many challenges along the way to raise awareness and much needed funds.

"As a company we're delighted to have made the challenge happen and facilitate Tony's 1,000 mile journey. We're grateful to be involved."

Tony has not finished with his fridge yet as he will run round the pitch at Ipswich Town - Sir Bobby's former club - on Saturday when they play Middlesbrough, and will take part in the Great North Run on Sunday.

Sir Bobby's son, Mark, said: "What strikes me most about him is his mental strength. That kind of perseverance and determination is exceptional really.

"When I met up with him during this challenge he'd had a fall and was in a lot of pain. He was limping badly at that point but had no intention to give up.

"Anyone who has been kind enough to sponsor him will know he's pushed himself to the limit to raise funds for the foundation."

Press Association

Editors Choice

Also in World News