Tom Completes His 60Km Row For Cancer Research UK

Tom Murphy rows 60Km in Srangford on a rowing machine for his 60th birthday to support Cancer Research UK

Friends, family and fellow rowers gathered at the Green in Strangford today (Sunday 21st April 2024) to cheer on Tom Murphy in his quest to row 60 kilometres on the eve of his sixtieth birthday in aid of Cancer research UK.

And after over five and a half hours of non-stop rowing, Tom finally realised his long ambition meeting this gruelling physical challenge head on.

He had been doing fitness training for long distance rowing over the winter and in the past eight weeks started a different training regime involving the rowing machine which has an accurate meter counter measuring the hypothetical distance he would have covered on the water.

Towards the end of the 60 Km row, Tom Murphy endures a lot of pain and exhaustion but battles on. (Photos by Jim Masson/Down News ©).

Starting at 10am on Sunday morning (21st April), Tom soon got into his stroke and started to clock up the kilometres. He was encouraged by the crowd of supporters that had gathered and remained through the row with him.

His son Christopher actually rowed on a rowing machine next to him to give him support and his daughter Karen too was close by his side and there were another two rowing machines which people hopped on to throughout the day.

Tom was positioned under a gazebo facing out towards Strangford Lough as he cut into the kilometers. Tea and buns kept the supporters fuelled up and Tom got by on sips of water to stay hydrated.

Tom Murphy’s wife Anne Marie keeps him hydrated and watched the meter as he entered the final kilometer.

As he approached the last 10,000 metres, his whole body was aching, but with steely resolve he battled through the pain barrier with his wife Anne Marie at his side. Many members of his family were gathered around shouting him on towards the end.

But through that wall of pain Tom found a short rush of adrenalin that got him over the final home run stretch, and as he crossed the imaginary line with a crowd count down, there was a huge roar and clapping from everyone showing their tremendous adulation and respect for Tom’s achievement.

He’s a champ! Tom Murphy completes his 60 Km row for his 60th birthday, but can barely lift his arms with sheer exhaustion.

Tom did it!

The funds are still coming in but he has exceeded his target for Cancer Research UK.

Tom was rowing for a very personal and special reason. His father had died before he reached his sixtieth birthday from asbestosis. He had been a builder and had come into contact with asbestos during his work.

So Tom decided to row 60 kilometres on his own sixtieth birthday as a tribute to his father who passed away early before his time. And with Tom all the way on that row today was his mother Eileen.

When he finally composed himself at the end of the row, Tom’s first action was to give his mother Eileen a big hug who was sitting nearby.

A Maelstrom of emotions must have been running through Tom’s mind at the end of the row and just after.

In celebratory mood: Tom and his son Chris emerge from the cooling waters of Strangford Lough.

Having stared out at Strangford Lough for over 5 hours, it was time to take a short dip to cool down!

Tom and his son Chris walked down the slipway into the cool waters at the Green and he immersed his aching legs for a brief spell then emerged for a few photos and a glass of bubbly!

Tom Murphy pictured with his family, friends, and fellow rowers of the Strangford Coastal Rowing Club after he completed his 60 Km row for his 60th birthday.
A happy moment… Tom Murphy shares a glass of bubbly with his wife Anne Marie after completed the gruelling 60 Km row.
Tom Murphy pictured with family members.

Speaking to Down News, Tom Murphy said: “The training was certainly long and hard but it paid off. The hardest stages of the row were at 10 Km and later at 35 Km.

“My whole body ached incredibly but I managed to stay focussed and keep going. All the supporters with my wife and family were there and kept me going and I really appreciated that.

“They helped me through the last 10 Km which was unbelievably tough.

“I’d just like to thank everyone who supported the Cancer Research UK charity today and who donated and who gave me support. I very much appreciate that.

“And a special thanks to Martin Collins, my ‘campaign manager’, who was a great help throughout.”

Chair of the Strangford Coastal Rowing Club, Natalie Reilly, with Tom Murphy who completed the 60 Km row, and his ‘campaign manager’ Martin Collins.

Natalie Reilly, the present Chair of Strangford Coastal Rowing Club, said: “Tom has been a long-standing member of our club and he will very soon be taking over my role as chair.

“He has really come through a roller coaster in this row. He went through a lot of pain yet managed somehow to keep going. Our members kept him positive through his challenge.

“He is a very generous man giving his time to this great charity. It is a really great accomplishment.”

Happy birthday Tom! And well done!