Paralympic gold medallist Richard Whitehead runs 40 marathons in 40 days
A PARALYMPIC gold medallist who set out to complete no fewer than 40 marathons in 40 days across the length of the country in memory of a young cancer victim reached our region yesterday.
Never straying far from the A38, Richard Whitehead's travels led him to Berkeley on Friday.
The double amputee, who picked up gold in the T42 200m at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, then continued towards Newport before ending for the day at the Stage Coach.
Today, he will be pursuing his journey down to Westerleigh, sprinting through Wotton, Falfield, Tortworth, Cromhall and Yate.
The Paralympian and double leg amputee embarked on the epic and exhausting 977 miles race from John's Groat to Land's End in support of cancer and disability charities Sarcoma UK and Scope.
He was inspired to put his endurance and stamina to the ultimate test by fellow amputee Terry Fox, whose dream to run the breadth of Canada was cut short as he succumbed to sarcoma, a rare and extremely fast-spreading type of soft tissue and bone cancer, at the early age of 22.
"Sadly he never completed his challenge," said the 37-year-old from Nottingham. "The idea of a run the length of Britain came from him and has been in my mind for about five years."
The race was also the perfect opportunity to send out a simple message to thousands of amputees and people affacted by disabilities around the nation.
"I’m living proof that having a disability shouldn’t stop you from achieving your goals," he added. "I’m a strong believer in living a life without limits, what my life has been about is accepting who you are and making the most of it. Once you've done that, you can push the barriers as far as they’ll go.
He is hoping to raise a staggering £1 million by completing the mammoth challenge.
"40 marathons in around 40 days is a monumental feat to take on and I don’t mind admitting that at the start of the first day in John O’Groats I was pretty anxious," he added.
"I’m just taking it a day at a time and making sure that I’m concentrating on each day in terms of 10k chunks.
"Winning a gold medal at the 2012 Paralympics in London was a stepping stone on this mission and the run is the next stage for me. Hopefully I can pass on a message of hope through my dedication to sport and be an inspiration to all."
To follow Richard's route, find out more about Sarcoma UK and Scope UK or make a donation visit www.richardwhiteheadrunsbritain.com
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