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Belfast-born jockey Dunwoody's 2,000 mile charity trek

Dunwoody's nephew (21) is fighting rare cancer

By Chris McCullough

Three-time champion jockey Richard Dunwoody is preparing to set off for one of the biggest challenges of his life, trekking across Japan in aid of charity.

Belfast-born Dunwoody, now retired, will walk the equivalent of one marathon per day in his quest to raise money for Sarcoma UK, a charity which is close to his own heart as he has a family member fighting the disease.

Sarcoma is a rare form of cancer that can affect any part of the body, but is more commonly found in the arms, legs and stomach.

Richard's 21-year-old nephew George, who represented Great Britain at the Junior World Rowing Championships in 2014, is fighting the disease, and has undergone both chemotherapy and proton therapy in the past 18 months.

In total, Richard aims to walk 2,000 miles across Japan, which is the longest challenge he has ever undertaken.

His trip will see him walk the length of Japan's three largest islands - Kyushu, Honshu and Hokkaido - starting in the south and travelling north.

Richard hopes to walk between 20 and 30 miles a day, totally on his own, camping out or staying in minshuku, the Japanese equivalent of a bed and breakfast, or in ryokan, local hotels.

Setting out from Cape Sata in the southern tip of Kyushu, he plans to reach Cape Soya, the northernmost point of Hokkaido, by early June. Dunwoody hopes his good Northern Ireland friend and former rival jockey Sir Anthony 'AP' McCoy will join him for part of the trip.

Richard said: "George, my nephew, was diagnosed with an aggressive and rare sarcoma in 2015, for which he is still receiving treatment.

"I was made aware of Sarcoma UK as a result and wanted to do something positive to help promote the fantastic work and ground-breaking research that they do.

"Japan is a country I have long wanted to explore and 2000 miles sounded like a reasonable distance."

Chief executive of Sarcoma UK, Lindsey Bennister, said: "We are honoured to have Richard Dunwoody, three-time champion jockey, trek the length of Japan in support of his nephew, George.

"Richard is helping Sarcoma UK to raise much needed funds and awareness of sarcoma. We wish Richard the best of luck and will be following his adventure closely."

Richard is quite an adventurer and has undertaken other shorter expeditions in the past.

He trekked to both the North and South Poles as well as walking 1000 miles in 1000 hours in 2009 to replicate Captain Barclay's achievement 200 years earlier.

He has raised more than £250,000 for a variety of causes he supports.

Sir Anthony 'AP' McCoy added: "My money would always be on Richard to complete anything he undertakes.

"I hope to join him at some stage and I expect we'll be as competitive as we have always been."

Richard will regularly update a photographic diary of his challenge along the way.

You can help Richard raise money at his JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Japan4SarcomaUK

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