Tony Scott, Harrow parkrun

In 1981 I ran the very first London Marathon. I was 39 years old and a PE teacher in North London - because I wasn’t good enough to be a professional footballer!

My interest in running came about through my job and I never used to send my students for a run - I took them for a run. I ran two more London Marathons, but by the mid-eighties my health started to deteriorate (due to Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis) and in 1988 I was told that I would need a liver transplant in about ten years time, and it was exactly that.

Eventually I remember coming back from a four mile run and recording in my training diary: “I have just run a personal worst, will I ever be able to run again?"

Over time I became enormously anaemic, my skin turned yellow and I stopped driving because I was concerned I would fall asleep at the wheel. I became weak, had no energy, and certainly couldn’t run or lift weights. I was in the depths of despair.

In February 1998 I got the 'phone call' and then my transplant, and immediately set about regaining my fitness.

I asked for an exercise bike in my ward, and after four days I got one on the basis that I promised to be sensible. When I got home I started walking but remembered that if you walk 50 metres out then you have to walk 50 metres back home again!

I was sensible and I built up my fitness steadily. After about six months I could jog a couple of miles, and in 2003 I heard about the British and World Transplant Games, which I have been competing in ever since. I’ve represented my hospital (Addenbrookes) at ten and Team GB at six World Transplant Games, winning gold in France, Canada, Thailand, Australia, Sweden and Argentina where I won four gold medals and set new world records in my age group (70+) for 400m, 800m, 1500m and 5000m.

I am hoping to get selected for the 2017 World Transplant Games in Malaga and am expecting a selection letter in the next few days.

A few years ago, a former pupil emailed me and asked if I’d heard of parkrun. He was going to Hampstead Heath parkrun, so we went along to the inaugural, and I then began running at Harrow parkrun when it launched as it’s closer to home. I take part in parkrun regularly (I’m a proud owner of a red 50 shirt) as it is an important part of my training, but mostly because I enjoy the camaraderie and the social aspect. You just never know who you are going to meet at 9am on a Saturday morning in your local park.


I don’t worry about my transplant, I just go out there and run, lift weights and do yoga classes. Life is all about making sensible decisions, just like it was when I got the exercise bike in my ward all those years ago. Decisions such as always using the upstairs toilet because you get more exercise, being sensible with alcohol, and resisting the temptation to sign up to the London Marathon!

Tony Scott

Photo courtesy of Mike Lepps




Phil Cairnduff, Stormont parkrun

In October 2004, 13 people in London were taking the first steps of what would become a global running phenomenon.

On the other side of the Irish Sea, I was taking my first steps since receiving a new liver.

I had just turned 18 and everything happened within the space of a week. I had been in Botswana for two weeks with 11 other members of my church, building low-cost housing for people in sub-standard living conditions. On our last day I began to feel unwell. I didn't think it was anything serious but as I began the journey home, which involved an eight-hour bus journey to the capital Gaborone and three flights back to Belfast, my condition worsened rapidly.

After spending two nights in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, during which time I became oblivious to events, I was transferred to Kings College Hospital in London as there were signs that my liver was deteriorating and a transplant might be necessary. Five days after my 18th birthday my liver failed completely, and had I not received a transplant within eight hours I would have died.

Luckily for me an organ became available and following 11 hours of surgery I had a new liver.

Running had always been the sport I enjoyed the most, so getting back to physical fitness was really important to me. The first few painful steps were from my hospital bed to the door, along the corridor, and up and down a few flights of stairs. I then tackled short walks outdoors. These gradually increased in distance, and nine months after the surgery I was finally ready to tackle ten miles of the Belfast Marathon Walk. It was another year before my first running race, a leg of the Belfast Marathon Relay.

When I first heard about parkrun, the idea of getting up for a run at 9:30am on a Saturday didn't appeal to me I must confess! But when a couple of church friends suggested we go together I decided to give it a go, and I knew immediately that parkrun was how I wanted to spend my Saturday mornings.

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I love an excuse to travel somewhere different, so 'parkrun tourism' quickly appealed to me. My first few runs were at Stormont parkrun in Belfast, but then I ventured to other events further afield. The atmosphere at parkrun is very appealing, there is a friendly vibe, and it’s great that everyone is encouraged to run or walk at their own pace. I have also enjoyed volunteering on a few occasions.

Last year I was selected for the World Transplant Games in Argentina where I competed alongside athletes from 44 countries, winning two silver medals in the 5000m Walk and 5k Road Race.

This was a really significant moment, because a fitting way for me to pay tribute to my donor and their family has always been by demonstrating a healthy and active lifestyle. The World Transplant Games is all about celebrating the donors who allowed us to be there in the first place, and I live every day in gratitude knowing that without a donor my life would have been cut short at a young age.

Winning lots of awards or being the best isn’t important; but achieving personal goals that I am proud of is one of the best ways of showing my gratitude.

Phil Cairnduff


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