A Thorndon man has hailed the generosity of the community after raising more than £2,200 from a sponsored run – which spanned four days and more than 230 miles.
Mark ‘Harry’ Harrison, 45, set off from Knettishall Heath at 8am on Friday, and ran across four long distance paths that link to form the ‘Around Norfolk’ route.
And he successfully completed the challenge, returning to Knettishall Heath at 10.45pm on Monday night, after conquering Angles Way, Weavers Way, the Norfolk Coast Path and Peddars Way.
Mr Harrison said two members of his family had their lives ‘dramatically changed’ by cancer, prompting his charity effort.
His father, John, who lives in Debenham, has been diagnosed with cancer twice and suffers from a degenerative form of Parkinson’s disease, while his brother in law, Gordon Holloway, of Ipswich, has brain tumours.
He had targeted to raise £2,000, to be split between Macmillan Cancer Support and St Elizabeth Hospice.
On part of the way round I started thinking ‘what made you think you could do this?’ But you have to ignore those thoughts and carry onHarry Harrison
While Mr Harrison is a regular runner, he has never tackled anything more than 100 miles in the past.
Training had been intense – getting up at 4.45am each morning to run a cross-country route to work at Muntons in Stowmarket carrying a 10kg weight vest and a 4kg back pack, and running home at the end of the day – meaning he has been doing the equivalent of at least five ultramarathons a week.
“It was a heck of a long way,” he said. “Anything that covers that sort of distance, there are a lot of different things that can happen, and things can be compounded by it.
“It is the equivalent because of the distance you are doing, it is so difficult to gauge how much effort the leg is going to take out of you.
He admitted it was tough – joking he could have just “laid down in the sand” and “called it quits” as he reached Holme-next-the-Sea along the Norfolk Coast Path.
“I looked at the four paths and they linked up, and I thought that would be a good challenge to do,” he said.
“On part of the way round I started thinking ‘what made you think you could do this?’
“But you have to ignore those thoughts and carry on.
“It was amazing. People turned up at the end, friends came and ran and walked and dragged me along for six-and-a-half miles at the end.
“The generosity of people, the time and the effort they put in, was unbelievable.
“It was a much greater experience than I thought it was going to be.”
Would Mr Harrison contemplate taking on another charity challenge?
“Yes, I’m sure I will do another challenge – but it might not involve running,” he said. “It might involve a bike next time. I will definitely be looking at doing another challenge.”
His partner, Lorraine Farley, described him as “amazing”.
“He wanted to give something back because he knows these organisations are supporting people we love.”
To donate, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/markharrison46