Keen runner Richard Ankers is clocking up more than 180 miles by taking on seven marathons in seven days.
The 42-year-old, from Newcastle, began the challenge on Christmas Eve and continued today dressed in a Santa suit.
He decided to take on the challenge after many of his planned marathons this year were cancelled.
Richard, who took up running several years ago, is raising money for mental health charity North Staffs Mind.
He says that running helps him a lot ‘mentally’ and it’s a great outlet for him, so he wanted to use what he loved to benefit a good cause locally.
“I used to drink quite a lot, but four years ago I completely stopped that. I wanted to do something that I knew would benefit me, so I decided to start running,” added Richard.
“Mentally, it helps me a lot and I’ve been running all year throughout the pandemic.
“I work away quite a lot so it’s hard to commit to a particular gym, but as a runner, the world is your gym, and it’s open 24/7.
“I decided that I wanted to start doing marathons, so I found a trainer, James Cunningham, who has helped me to prepare.”
When his planned marathons for this year were cancelled due to the pandemic, Richard joined in with some virtual runs, including an 874-mile epic from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
“I finished 11th in that, and it was organised by Strava, the running app,” he said.
“When that finished though, and my other marathons were being postponed, I knew I had to take on another challenge.
“So over the last nine weeks, I have been running roughly 110 to 120 miles a week – I probably run about 20 miles a night. I absolutely love it. It really pushes me. I’ve done all of the training and prepared as much as I can.”
The fundraiser kicked off at 7.30am on Christmas Eve, and for seven days straight Richard will be running 26.2 miles.
Richard has been loading up on carbs and training as much as possible for the challenge, but he says he’s not putting too much pressure on himself.
He added: “My best marathon time is three hours and 29 minutes. Christmas Day is interesting because I’m wearing a Santa suit, so I already know that will impact me.
“I’ve also got a Forrest Gump outfit that I’ll be wearing on one of the runs too, because that’s what everyone calls me now.
“I’ve got some people who have said they will join me for some of the runs, or part of one run, about seven or eight people, so that will be great to have some socially distanced support.”
Richard is being sponsored by the company he works for, Gas Pipe Installations, and has already raised more than £2,000 for North Staffs Mind.
“I have set up a fundraising page and everyone who donates will receive a number, and then we will be giving away some prizes.
“I have some 4Fitt prizes, which is the gym I go to now, beauty prizes, and different food vouchers that have been provided by my work.
“I have raised over £2,200 so far, which is just amazing and I’m so pleased. I’m glad that I can help the charity in my own way.
“I have lost some really good friends over the years due to mental health problems and, this year, people are suffering more than ever due to Covid.
“I want to raise lots of money for Mind and raise awareness of mental health problems and encourage people – especially men – to open up more.”
You can support Richard’s challenge in aid of North Staffs Mind on his fundraising page.