Mike Tomlinson, the husband of the inspirational charity fundraiser Jane Tomlinson, will set off this morning on his own challenge - cycling from the home of the last Olympics in London - to the home of the next one - in Rio.
Mike will be joined on the 3,000 mile journey by a team of supporters including TV presenter Charlie Webster and ex-Rugby League professionals Keith Senior and Paul Highton as they journey from London’s Olympic Stadium to the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
Setting off on Monday (June 27th) and cycling some 90 miles a day over six weeks, the team aim to arrive in time for the Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony on 4th August.
The challenge marks the 10th anniversary of Jane’s remarkable Ride Across America, which was to be her final challenge before her untimely death from cancer aged just 43.
Jane made headlines across the world by taking in a series of epic challenges from marathons to Ironman to cycling from Rome to Home. Her Ride Across America was to be her most ambitious challenge covering 4,200 miles over 10 weeks of cycling.
Throughout the journey, Jane’s health was deteriorating and whilst battling the heat she was also contending with a broken pelvis. Somehow she still found the courage to complete the distance.
Mike Tomlinson said: “On the 29th June 2006, Jane set off to cycle across the USA at a time when she knew her cancer was aggressive and in its final stage. Her success was testament to her incredible mental strength.
The Appeal, and we as a family, wanted to mark this milestone in a special way. As Jane was an ambassador for the 2012 London Olympics bid, it seemed appropriate to celebrate her life by cycling to Rio. Hopefully, the challenge will help us raise some money, but we also hope that by reminding people about Jane’s journey, it will inspire other people – and show just what can be possible with courage and determination.
The team – joined by supporters at sections along the way - will pedal from London’s Olympic Stadium to Portsmouth. After landing in Caen in France, they will then take on 1,123 miles of testing terrain to Lisbon.
From Lisbon, the team flies to Recife in the north east of Brazil before venturing along the 1,600 mile coast road to Rio de Janeiro.
The challenge aims to raise thousands of pounds for the Appeal to carry on Jane’s legacy, supporting children’s and cancer services across the country.The money Jane raised on her Ride Across America helped to fund the launch of the Leeds 10K – part of her lasting fundraising legacy – which has brought in more than £4m for charities since her death.
The team will be away for the 2016 Leeds 10K on Sunday 10th July, but will run their own 10K on what should be a rest day in Portugal to ensure they are ‘there in spirit’.
A share of the money raised from the Rio Challenge will also go to support Rugby League Cares, a dedicated charity supporting the Rugby League family and its local communities.