Man takes on marathon in California after sister's cancer diagnosis

Tom Howe, from Dereham, ran the Mountains to Beach Marathon in California in support of his sister Tiggy and the Big C

Tom Howe, from Dereham, ran the Mountains to Beach Marathon in California in support of his sister Tiggy and the Big C - Credit: Tom Howe

A Norfolk man has successfully conquered a marathon in California in support of his sister following her sudden breast cancer diagnosis. 

Tom Howe, who hails from Dereham, ran the Mountains to Beach Marathon in aid of cancer charity, Big C. 

Tom Howe (second from left) and Nia Spalding (third from right). They are pictured with family

Tom Howe (second from left) ran a marathon in California for his sister, Nia Spalding (third from right). They are pictured with family - Credit: Nia Spalding

Mr Howe's sister, Nia Spalding, was told she had breast cancer back in February, but has been supported by a number of local organisations including Big C.

Better known in the Dereham area as 'Tiggy', Mrs Spalding has been running the successful JDT Music Academy for more than two decades. 

Having completed his Herculean task, Mr Howe said: "It has been tough living so far away from Nia and my family, especially since learning of her diagnosis.

"This is my way of trying to help give back and support a local charity and their facilities, which are an integral part of my sister’s journey.” 

Tom Howe, from Dereham, running the Mountains to Beach Marathon in California

Tom Howe, from Dereham, running the Mountains to Beach Marathon in California - Credit: Dan Holmes

The Mountains to Beach Marathon starts just over 700 feet above sea level in downtown Ojai, before gradually descending to sea level over 22 miles. 

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It ends near the historic Ventura pier. 

Despite contracting Covid two weeks before the race and not being 100pc fit as a result, Mr Howe was determined to do his sister proud and finished the 26.2-mile course in four hours and 59 minutes.

The 38-year-old, who has lived and worked in California for 10 years, even ran an extra half mile after being misdirected by a race official. 

Mr Howe, a former pupil at Dereham Church First & Middle School, has so far raised more than £5,000 for Big C.

Tom Howe, from Dereham, ran the Mountains to Beach Marathon in California in support of his sister, Nia Spalding

Tom Howe, from Dereham, ran the Mountains to Beach Marathon in California in support of his sister, Nia Spalding - Credit: Tom Howe

"I am immensely proud of Tom who, coincidently, is not a fan of running," said Mrs Spalding, musical director at JDT alongside her wife, Janel. 

"We are so grateful for the incredible support of everyone who has donated or sent messages.

"The Big-C has been fundamental to my ongoing cancer journey and provides such an important support network for thousands of folk across the county. It is wonderful to know that we have been able to contribute to their amazing facilities and resources."

To make a donation, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/thomas-howe2.

Big C has four drop-in support centres across Norfolk and Waveney. For more information, visit big-c.co.uk.