Meet the art teacher from a secondary school in the borough who is hoping to enter the record books as the world’s fastest crayon!
Belinda Neild, who teaches at Fred Longworth High School in Tyldesley, will run the London Marathon later this month dressed as a children’s colouring object.
And she is hoping to complete the 26.2-mile course in under four hours to officially run the distance faster than anyone in a similar costume has before.
Belinda is no stranger to unusual marathon exploits as last year she did the London event carrying a memory flag, raising thousands of pounds for St Ann’s Hospice.
And she decided that if she was going to put herself through the gruelling ordeal once more, she wanted to capture a world record for doing so.
Belinda said: “This year I needed to make the challenge more difficult. I decided to go for a crayon as I’m an art teacher so felt the outfit best suited.
“I thought to myself that if I was running a marathon I should raise money for charity and go for a world record.
“The training is killing me. It’s got to be under four hours and the costume is really hard to run in. It comes down below my knee so you have to run with your legs rigid, it is so inflexible.
“It will be a massive achievement if I do it. It will be for the charities, and raising money for them is what it’s all about for me, but there will be the personal achievement as well.”
Belinda began running after her mum died in 2011 and started her fund-raising exploits for the hospice which cared for her during her final illness.
This time, though, she is splitting her efforts between Ava’s Wish, which supports a young girl who is quadriplegic and has cerebral palsy, and Histio UK which supports research into rare immunodeficiency blood disease Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytososis (HLH) and helps parents of youngsters suffering from it.
Belinda has picked the charity as her friends’ daughter sadly died from the condition last December, aged just six.
She has enjoyed excellent support from her colleagues and pupils at the Printshop Lane school and says word about her unusual fancy dress challenge is also starting to get out.
She said: “I was out for a practice run recently and someone asked me if I was the crayon that was running. I wasn’t even wearing the outfit!
“People are loving the idea once I tell them it’s for charity, though I don’t love wearing the costume!
“The kids at school are hilarious, they don’t know what to think. It’s starting to turn up now in the classroom.
“Last year we had a non-uniform day and the support was superb, but the hospice is just outside the school’s area so it is close to people’s hearts.
“I’ve not asked the headteacher to do one again this year because it seems a bit much but I’ve been doing sweet stalls and things.”
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