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Belfast man Adam Conlon's 195-mile hike home for Christmas in aid of Army veterans

By Sophie Inge

You've probably heard of driving home for Christmas, but one Army veteran is making the journey on foot - all the way from Bath to Belfast.

Adam Conlon (36) began his 195 mile-trek this morning and hopes to arrive at his parents' house in south Belfast by next Tuesday.

Along the way he's hoping to raise vital funds for wounded servicemen and women through Walking with the Wounded's annual Christmas campaign, Walking Home for Christmas.

As a former captain in the Royal Artillery who has also completed the gruelling Ironman Triathlon, Adam is used to putting his body through physical challenges.

"I went to Afghanistan twice and left the Army in 2011 and I kind of missed pushing my limits a bit," Adam, who currently works as an inspirational speaker in Bath, told the Belfast Telegraph.

"When I saw the Walking Home For Christmas campaign I thought it was a great way to raise money for a good cause and help wounded veterans get into employment. I feel very lucky to be where I am so it's nice to give a little back.

"The conflict in Afghanistan is not so much in the news anymore but it's really important that we don't forget, because for a lot of guys out there the battle will go on for ever."

Adam has given himself five to six days to complete the challenge - which will mean running about 60km a day.

He plans to run from Bath to Liverpool then get the ferry to Belfast before running the final leg home. So how did he train for such an epic journey?

"I've just generally been keeping myself fit and injury free," he said. "But it's a whole new ball game doing long distance. I think the key is to take it slow and steady.

"The worst thing you can do is let your ego run away with you and go really fast. So I've been doing plenty of slow runs up the canal in Bath which has been really nice."

Naturally, he's had to pack light, and is only bringing one extra T-shirt. "Sadly it means I might smell a little by the end," he said.

Each night, he'll be staying with ex-military friends living along the route.

"They think I'm absolutely crazy," said Adam. "But after you get through the initial banter I think they really like the idea and think it's for a good cause."

Meanwhile, his family in Belfast couldn't be more delighted.

"They thought I was getting the plane, but when I told them a few days ago they loved the idea. They've been through the roller coaster of seeing me go off to Afghanistan, so they love all this kind of stuff.

"Mum said she was going to arrange a special recovery dinner so I'll be ready for that."

Since he launched his fundraising page on Sunday, friends and family have donated more than £350.

"I have no real figure that I'm trying to raise," he said.

"To be honest any amount will make a difference for this great charity, but if I could raise over £1,000 that would certainly make my Christmas."

Adam is just one of hundreds raising money for the charity through its Christmas campaign.

WWTW director of fundraising Andrew Cook said: "Many of our ex-military personnel face a Christmas and New Year without much sparkle. We are so grateful to the huge numbers who accept our challenge to stride out on their behalf before Christmas, in a determined bid to help us put the twinkle back into their and their families' eyes."

To donate, visit: http://uk.virgin moneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiser ProfilePage.action?userUrl=Adam Conlon You can follow his journey through his Instagram (instagram.com/adamkconlon) and Facebook pages (facebook.com/groups/ RunningBathtoBelfast)

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