A Thorndon man is running more than 230 miles across Norfolk and Suffolk in a fundraising bid for two charities close to his heart.
Mark ‘Harry’ Harrison, 45, set off from Knettishall Heath at 8am this morning and, over the next three days, will be running across four long distance paths that link to form the ‘Around Norfolk’.
The work that everyone puts in with those charities is phenomenal. Everything really counts, so if anyone else would like to donate then all the betterMark ‘Harry’ Harrison
He is due to finish back at Knettishall Heath on Sunday night, via 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 hopes to raise £2,000, which will be split between Macmillan Cancer Support and St Elizabeth Hospice.
While Mr Harrison is a regular runner, he has never tackled anything more than 100 miles in the past.
Training has 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.
The Diss Express caught up with Harry this morning as he arrived at the Mere for his first lunch stop – about 17 miles into his trek.
“It’s hot, and muggy, and I’m sweating like mad, but it’s been lovely,” he said. “It’s a bright day, there’s a little bit of a cool breeze, and the scenery has been fantastic.
“This is very much an unknown quantity in terms of distance. I’ve really got to try and be careful on the pace, and with fuelling, and see how it goes. It is early days yet - but so far so good.
“This is for my dad and my brother-in-law. They have both been affected by cancer, and my dad with a Parkinson’s-type disease.
“The work that everyone puts in with those charities is phenomenal. Everything really counts, so if anyone else would like to donate then all the better.
“I love to set myself challenges that push me to my physical, mental and emotional limits and to raise money for charities so they can continue their fantastic work.”
Mr Harrison’s partner, Lorraine Farley, said: “This is a really tall order so I’m trying to get as much support for him as possible to keep him boosted.
“We’ve been really, really pleased with how it is going and there has been so much support.
“I think he’s mad,” she added.
“I think he’s amazing. He is strong willed, he’s determined. He has a military background –he used to be a Royal Marine – so he has got that mindset to finish. Barring serious injury, he will finish.”
“He wants to give something back because he knows these organisations are supporting people we love.”
Ms Farley also thanked the support team for the challenge – Vicky Elliston, of Thorndon, and Shaun Govan and Stephen Page, also of Thorndon.