It took 11 hours and 23 minutes, but on Saturday (21st December), Paul Smith from Sherburn Hill, Durham, ran for an amazing 61 miles to raise money for two local charities.
It is the furthest Paul has ever run and he undertook the challenge, on the shortest day of the year, in aid of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Finlay Cooper Fund.
The 50-year-old has run every single day since 1st January 2007, what is termed a ‘running streak,’ and was keen to try something new. He came up with the idea of running between the region’s football clubs and began his run at midnight at St James’ Park Newcastle.
He then headed to the Stadium of Light, Sunderland, Victoria Park, Hartlepool and then to Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium before heading back to Victoria Park. He arrived in time to watch his beloved Hartlepool United take on Burton Albion and enjoyed a well-deserved lap of honour round the pitch.
His run through the bleak December weather has raised over £3,000 for the two charities and Paul was supported throughout the run by friends and family.
Speaking at the finish, Paul said: “That was very tough. But then that’s what challenges are supposed to be.
“I’m feeling a real mixture of emotions. I’m elated, relieved, proud, honoured and humbled by the fantastic support I’ve received.
“For me, it was just running, albeit running a very long way. It’s the fundraising for two worthy causes that really counts. The work the two charities fund is what matters and I’m proud to have been able to help.
“Thanks to everyone who has donated. And, if you haven’t had a chance to yet and would like to, you can still donate online.”
Hartlepool manager, Colin Cooper, and his wife, Julie, formed The Finlay Cooper Fund in August 2006. They lost their son Finlay in January 2002 in a tragic choking accident and wanted to do something positive in his name.
Donations have been given through the charity to a large number of local children’s causes including hospices, a diabetes trust and a cancer ward.
Colin Cooper said: “This is such an amazing effort from Paul I would encourage as many people as possible to donate if they possibly can.
“It’s a unique charity challenge and I know it means a lot to Paul to raise as much as he can for the two causes so every small donation will help spur him on.”
Sir Bobby and Lady Elsie launched the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation in 2008 to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer – including the clinical trials of new drugs.
Lady Elsie said: “My sons and I were lucky enough to meet up with Paul before his challenge and we were all impressed by his commitment and enthusiasm.
“To have run as far as 61 miles is incredible, especially in the cold December weather and through the night.
“On behalf of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, I’d like to thank Paul for his tremendous efforts and also thank everyone who has been kind enough to sponsor him.
“The money raised will help people across the North East and Cumbria facing cancer.”
This year, thanks to tremendous ongoing support, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has been able to fund an Imaging Flow Cytometer for £438,000, which allows scientists to see cancer cells that may be circulating in a patient’s blood.
It has also part-funded the complementary therapy programme, which provides relief from the symptoms of cancer and its treatment for patients at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care and jointly funded a cancer patient ambulance.
Early next year, thanks to the Foundation’s largest funding contribution to date, £850,000, the latest generation in stereotactic radiotherapy surgery will become available to cancer patients from across the North East and Cumbria. It will be used to treat tumours which are currently inoperable and delivers extremely high doses of radiation with pin-point accuracy.
To sponsor Paul, please visitwww.virginmoneygiving.com/LordSmythe1908.