"This one's for my dad" - Doncaster lecturer tackles gruelling 100km run for cancer charities

She was only 18 months old when her young dad died suddenly of bowel cancer, and Victoria Adams has long wanted to do something in his memory.

By Sally Burton
Friday, 21 June, 2019, 08:43
Victoria Adams with some of her co-runners

Sporty, like her dad who was a much-respected  semi-professional footballer, Victoria is challenging herself now to the ultimate test of endurance in memory of her father – a 100 kilometre Race to the Stones.

Sponsorship for each kilometre run will be split between Cancer Research UK and Bowel Cancer Research.

Victoria, 48, said: “I have no actual memories of my dad but he has lived on in the many photos, newspaper cuttings and stories I have been told by family and friends over the years. 

“He has always been a huge part of our lives.

“As with all loss, it is a sadness that never really goes away, and still catches me unawares at certain times.”

She continued:  “I think he’d say I was pretty crazy for running 100km, but I’m pretty sure he’d have been up for a similar challenge.

Victoria's parents on their wedding day

“If it helps fund some research, which at some point, prevents another child growing up without a parent, then it will be the best 100km I’ve covered to date.”

An ESOL lecturer at Doncaster College, Victoria has one son, 16-year old Marc, whom, she is told, greatly resembles his grandfather.

Dave Adams died of bowel cancer aged just 24 years.

“He was an athlete, super fit and healthy,” said Victoria. “He was told repeatedly that he was too young for it to be bowel cancer. By the time they discovered it was it was too late.

“Symptoms aren’t often that strong, and can be mistaken sometimes  for irritable bowel syndrome, gluten intolerance and other conditions with similar symptoms .”

A keen horse rider, Victoria came late to the joys of pounding the pavements and pathways.

“I started running in my late thirties and found it really hard, virtually impossible at first,” she explained.

“People try to move too fast with it….you have to take it a bit at a time and  go very slowly, then build up gradually ….

“I’ve done a couple of half marathons but nothing like the Stone.

“Part of me thinks I’ve gone mad, but I’m doing it with four friends who run with Ackworth Harriers and we’ll keep each other going.”

A fundraising salsa evening held recently has bumped up sponsorship money over the £1000 mark, but Victoria hopes to make much more to honour the dad she lost as a baby.

The run takes place on July 13 to 14, and the Sunday will, aptly, be the anniversary of her father’s death.

“It’s not just the raising money – it’s really important to raise awareness of bowel cancer.. that it can and does strike people at a young age.

“You have to keep people’s memories alive. Mine are ones that have been given to me over years in various forms, and I’m grateful for them.

“I’m told by my mum that I’m like my dad, and that my son is the spit image of him. He also likes his football,

“We all apparently share the same kind of humour too.”

Among a collection of treasured items that helped to piece together the memories Victoria cherishes of her dad, is a written tribute, made after his death, by his friend Dick Kirkup.

Victoria supplied this so that readers can form a picture of the kind of man her father was, and why it is so important for her to try to help others in his memory.

The tribute reads: “The real tragedy of Dave Adams was not so much his untimely death in July of this year at the age of 24, but his loss, of course, to his widow Brenda and small daughter Victoria, his loss to the countless friends and admirers and his loss to football, a game he graced so honourably and loved so deeply.”

He tells how his friend had an outstanding career as a schoolboy and was spotted by talent scout Charlie Ferguson.

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Hejoined the Mariners’ in Sunderland then played for South Shields. He became Captain with 145 first team appearances, and led Shields out in the third round proper of the FA Cup in London, against Queen’s Park Rangers.

Despite a broken nose, wrote Mr Kirkup, he played on to the point of collapse.

He was. added his friend: “in every sense a model human being – a model player, a model person, and as honest a man you could meet.”   

 He also became a qualified coach and a few months before his death told of his plans to coach local youngsters.                  

“In a world of artificial people and artificial values, Dave Adams was the real thing, ” added Mr Kirkup.