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Paralympic champion's marathon trek

Paralympic 200m sprint champion Richard Whitehead said his challenge of running 40 marathons in 40 days is "tough going" - exactly one year on from his 2012 gold medal triumph.

The double leg amputee, who defended his world 200m title last month, is just about half way through his gruelling charity trek from John O'Groats to Land's End.

Whitehead said although he has had "some real tough days", he is spurred on by the fact he is doing the run "for lots of people that are less fortunate than myself".

Speaking from Lancaster as he prepared to embark on day 19, he said: "I've had some real tough days climbing. I had one a couple of days ago towards Kendal, and about a week before in Glen Coe where we were climbing some big hills, so that was really tough.

"For me I'm in a lucky position where I'm sitting healthy and there's lots of people out there who are in a less fortunate position than myself. Just knowing that I'm not doing it for myself, that I'm actually doing this run for lots of people that are less fortunate than myself.

"Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I don't want to go out and run, and I just push myself through those bad days. I've had friends who have died from cancer and knowing that they would want me to push on is a big help."

Exactly one year on from his gold medal win at the Paralympics, Whitehead said it was "awesome" to achieve so much in such a short time and praised his "strong team" who he says have been a huge support in the process. So much vigorous exercise is tough even on the elite figures in sport. He said: "It's been really tough. Obviously, 19 or 20 days of continued exercise puts a massive strain on the body. Mentally as well as physically. It's been tough going. I've lost a little bit of weight. It's just one of those things where you need to continue on the right path."

Whitehead, a natural marathon runner, turned to sprinting because there was no marathon for him to compete in at the London 2012 Paralympics. He not only stormed home to 200m gold but also to a world record.

This charity challenge is also a million pound fundraising quest as he hopes to raise at least that amount - through donations and sponsorship of people who want to run alongside him - for the charities Sarcoma UK and Scope.

It is in memory of his friend Simon Mellows, who died in 2005 after contracting a secondary cancer, and as a tribute to Terry Fox who died, aged 22, in June 1981. He was an amputee and sarcoma cancer sufferer who died as he tried to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He never completed his challenge.


From Belfast Telegraph