London Marathon 2023: running for research is a family affair

17 April 23

written by:

Sarah Kidner

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Nick Tuftnell and his stepson Jude are running the London Marathon 2023 to raise money for Fight for Sight. Nick has choroideremia.

Nick Tuftnell (age 46) is running the London Marathon this year as part of Team Tommy Salisbury alongside stepson Jude, the youngest male runner.

Both are fundraising for Fight for Sight.

Nick, who is registered blind, has choroideremia and a long history with Fight for Sight through the Tommy Salisbury Fund.

Nick running in a vest

Some 11 years ago, Nick participated in a gene therapy trial funded by Fight for Sight. “I had gene therapy at Oxford Eye Hospital. I was patient number three to have that treatment, says Nick. “I know Emma and Dot [Salisbury] have been fairly fundamental fundraising through Fight for Sight for that treatment,” Nick adds.

From Park Run to the London Marathon

Nick’s marathon journey began park running with one of his sons. This time last year, he completed his first Marathon in Manchester and has since roped in his stepson, Jude.

“Jude has been in and out of running a bit, but towards the end of last year, he got into it in a big way and has been coming to some of the club training sessions. He put in for the public ballot for London, and he got that first time,” says Nick.

The youngest runner in the London Marathon

“He'll be 18 years and six days on the day of the marathon. The press office recently told us he will be the youngest male running this year.

"Alongside my Sports Science academic work, it seemed necessary to put my name in the draw as I was enjoying some local 5ks at the time (only having less than four months since my first Parkrun). I have always enjoyed sports during childhood as it was a very therapeutic post-bereavement, which was my dad passing away when I was 8."

Jude is aiming to finish in under three hours. 

Jude Tuftnell running.

Training together has strengthened familial bonds

Nick and his stepson Jude have trained together in preparation for the 26.2-mile run.

“We would go down to the local running track together on a Tuesday night and train together. More recently, our schedules have meant we've just had to kind of fit all the runs in separate times.”

Nick has enjoyed their time together. “It has been lovely. My wife Paula and I are both bereaved, having lost our first partners. We met through a widows’ group and brought our families together. Paula brought two boys and me one. So, we’re a blended family of five,” he says.

“I think particularly for Paula's boys, losing a father has been quite difficult. And, it's been quite difficult for me to be some positive role model in their lives. Jude and I, we've struggled at times, you know, to really bond, really gel. And so, I think the running has been a real positive, something we can connect about in our lives.”

Nick’s wife has also caught the running bug and plans to enter next year’s ballot.

While the two have trained together, they may cross the finish line separately.

“I think we'll be pacing ourselves separately. We've done a, done a fair bit of training together. But yes, we'll both be setting off at a different pace. Hopefully, we'll cross the line not too far apart, all being well.”

“For the time being, the old guy’s got a little bit of a lead on the young guy, but I am just waiting for years to catch up on me, and at that point, that will change over.”

Cheering the pair on

Our team will be waiting to cheer Nick and Jude along the way, but we may need to cheer extra loud in Nick’s case.

“I've told anyone who's going to come and cheer me on I've got quite a reputation for blanking people when I'm out running. I tell people it's not cause I'm rude; it's just because I must concentrate on where I'm going so that I don't necessarily notice my surroundings so much. People cheering on the side will have to make a heck of a lot of noise.”

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