Help For Heroes Marathon Man

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Graham Clifford, who has worked in the comms industry for the best part of 20 years and is fairly well known having completed five years or so at duPre, six at STL and most recently six years with Redcare Telecom (previously Datasharp –Newbury) is to run from John O’Groats to Lands End to raise money for the Help for Heroes charity.

Well the background to this is that 20 years or so I snapped the cruciate ligament in my knee playing Rugby and despite an operation at the time have never been able to take part in any real sport since. It got continually worse until about 4 years ago when I even got as far as sending off for a disabled badge and then I thought this is ridiculous I’m 40 years old and ready for the scrapheap. I went back to see the specialists again and two operations and 12 months of physio later I was signed off and told that “I could go and do what I wanted now” – Although I’m sure she didn’t have this in mind!

So essentially I’ve been running for about 2 years have done, two 10k runs, three half marathons and one full Marathon (Brighton) last year. Having done the Marathon I started to look for a new challenge and it was then that I came across the JOGLE.

So just five short months ago, aided by a few glasses of wine for bravery, I sent the organiser an email half expecting to be told to go away but what I didn’t know at that stage was the organiser was an amazing long distance endurance runner (Rory Coleman) with 9 Guinness World records to his name – Clearly not someone to let a few minor obstacles get in his way.

So that was that, I signed on the dotted line and have spent the last 5 months trying to get myself in shape for it, although I was physically pretty fit building your endurance is completely different.

I won’t lie it’s been tough, particularly over Winter, getting up in the dark and going out for the long training runs – catching the first train out of town in the morning to towns down the line and then trying to run back from them. I’ve lost one toe nail already and many of the others are turning various shades of purple but apparently it’s all part and parcel of the “fun” of Ultra Running and there will be worse to come I’m sure.

I fly to Inverness on the 21st April, and am then picked up by the Rock and Roll “sleeper” coach that’s going to be our home for the next fortnight or so when we’re not running, and taken to John O’Groats ready to start on the 22nd.

Currently there are 8 of us attempting the run from both the UK and abroad – each of us will be running in our own right with an average daily mileage of 56 miles and a total distance over the 16 days of some 860 miles. All being well we reach Lands End on the 7th May

The route follows the classic journey from John O’Groats to Lands End. The route through Scotland follows the A9 down to Inverness, then follows Loch Ness to Fort William, up through the idyllic Glencoe Pass onto Glasgow and then through the lowlands to cross the border.

From here, the route goes over the Shap ‘wall’ along the A6 down to Ludlow where we cross over into Wales. The old Severn Bridge welcomes runners back into England and the turn for home down through Taunton, Okehampton, St. Austell and Cornwall’s famous Lands End landmark and the finish tape.

Lots of people have asked me why I would even want to do something like this and I guess there are two main reasons,

Firstly the sheer madness of it appeals to me; lots of people every year cycle the route but to run it! Who can honestly say that they’ve pushed themselves to their absolute physical and mental limits and then pushed some more?

Secondly I’m funding the £2,500 cost of the trip myself but want to raise that and more for my charity Help for Heroes. It’s an incredibly worthwhile cause and we should all be grateful for the sacrifices these brave men and woman have made and continue to make on a daily basis. Hopefully this will help spur me on in the difficult hours and there’s definitely going to be more than a few of those.