Former WRU boss diagnosed with lung cancer prepares for huge fundraising challenge

  • Words by ITV Wales reporter Beth Thomas

Former WRU commercial director Craig Maxwell is calling on people the of Wales to join him in a challenge to raise £1 million for cancer research.

Craig, who is now a fundraiser for Velindre, was diagnosed with incurable lung and bone cancer EGFR in September 2022.

Since then, he has worked with Velindre to raise awareness and funds to speed up cancer diagnosis in Wales.

Over the last year, Craig has raised just short of £1 million through running the London Marathon, taking part in CARTEN, cycling 320 miles from Cardiff to Paris, cycling over 420 miles from Paris to Bordeaux and taken on the Welsh 3000s – climbing over 10 mountains, all over 3,000ft in 24 hours.

Craig cycled 320 miles from Cardiff to Paris over four days Credit: Craig Maxwell

Earlier this year, he was also crowned Cycling Plus’ Rider of the Year for his efforts.

Now, Craig is aiming to raise £1 million for cancer research and treatment by taking on 780 miles of the Wales Coast Path - over just 26 days.

Craig said the journey to his diagnosis was a "rollercoaster." After returning home from a charity bike ride from London to Paris, he says he began to feel unwell.

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A trip to the hospital resulted in doctors finding an 8cm tumour in Craig's lower left lung.

"It took an additional 78 days for them to discover if that was cancer or if it was malignant," Craig told ITV Wales.

"Those 78 days were the hardest I've been through, even harder than receiving my diagnosis because you want to do everything for your family, start to get treatment and you just don't know what's wrong. You're getting sicker and sicker."

After those 78 days, Craig was told he had stage four lung and bone cancer that was inoperable and incurable.

"I decided I was going to put my energy into changing that for the next family, so they shouldn't have to go through what I and my family went through for those 78 days," Craig said.

The 780 miles Craig is walking represents the 78 days he waited for his diagnosis, while the 26 days he hopes to complete the walk in has been chosen to mirror the QuicDNA project's goal of reducing diagnosis time.

Starting in Chester on 14 February, Craig will finish his walk at Cardiff's Principality Stadium on 10 March for the Wales vs. France Guinness Six Nations match.

A rugby match ball will be relayed the entire distance of the challenge to symbolise Wales’ collective fight against cancer.

Craig's children, Isla and Zach, will accompany him to carry the match ball onto the pitch.

As Craig is receiving ongoing treatment, he will be joined by a different Welsh celebrity every day of the walk so that, regardless of his ability to walk, he will have a representative to take on the challenge.

TV presenter Gethin Jones and a number of former rugby players including Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts, Josh Navidi and Velindre ambassador Jonathan ‘Jiffy’ Davies are among some of the names that have signed up so far.

The money raised through the walk will go to the Maxwell Family Genomics Fund - a fund Craig launched in his latest challenge to kick off 2024.

Each day of walking offers 30 spaces, inviting participants to raise £500 for the fund. To find out more, you can visit

"The reason why I'm doing all this fundraising though is because, in the future, I'm not going to be able to have conversations with my children like I would like to," Craig said.

"Hopefully, they can look back to the strength that [their] Dad had when he was going through his toughest time and what he did to drive and make a difference for the cancer pathway and other families in Wales."

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