Paralympian Richard Whitehead ready for 40-marathon challenge

Richard Whitehead Richard Whitehead said he wanted to take the route through his home county
Richard Whitehead He is hoping people will join in by running 5km, 10km or a half marathon
Richard Whitehead Whitehead broke a world record and won gold in the 200m T42 at the Paralympics last year

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Paralympic gold medallist Richard Whitehead is gearing up to start his latest charity challenge.

From Tuesday, the 200m sprinter from Nottinghamshire will run from John O'Groats to Land's End by completing a marathon a day for 40 days.

The 37-year-old, who began his career as a marathon runner, thought of taking up the challenge five years ago.

Richard Runs Britain, as it is called, aims to raise £1m for charities Sarcoma UK and Scope.

Start Quote

Marathon running is something I am passionate about and I want to prove that any barrier can be overcome”

End Quote Richard Whitehead
Paralympic platform

Whitehead said he had been inspired by amputee and sarcoma cancer sufferer Terry Fox, who attempted to run the breadth of Canada in 1980.

"He inspired me to take up running and unfortunately he died before he finished his run," he said.

Marathon challenge

Richard Whitehead
  • Richard Runs Britain starts on 13 August and finishes around 23 September
  • He will visit 14 towns and cities along the way where people can run with him
  • By the end Whitehead will have covered 977 miles (1,572km)
  • In 2010, he completed the Chicago Marathon in 2 hours and 42 minutes, breaking the world record for athletes with lower-limb amputations

"So, five years ago I thought this would be a good idea. I started training but the Paralympics has given me the platform to facilitate it, which takes a lot of time and effort."

Whitehead, who was born without the lower halves of his legs, has spent the last year training around his home county.

He added: "Marathon running is something I am passionate about and I want to prove that any barrier can be overcome.

"After the games I could have just sat back and thought 'I'm going on holiday' but at this stage of my career, I wanted to make the most of what I did last year.

"The hardest thing is getting your body used to being on your feet for five hours a day, running up and down hills and the terrain is going to be tough. The mental side of getting up and running a marathon will also be a challenge."

Over the 40 days, he will be joined by a team of coaches and medical staff. He is also inviting members of the public to join him at certain points and run 5km, 10km or a half marathon.

He will take a detour on his route to Nottingham on 8 September for a fun run.

"A lot of sport is about personal success but I wanted to bring sport to the community and provide lots of opportunities for people to get involved," he added.

"Hopefully people who have seen me on my journey at the Paralympics last year will follow me on this journey too."

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