Mountain biking enthusiast's gruelling running challenge for hospice

Nicola Whittle has swapped two wheels for two feet to support Wigan and Leigh Hospice (WLH).
Nicola Whittle is running 26.2 miles each week in NovemberNicola Whittle is running 26.2 miles each week in November
Nicola Whittle is running 26.2 miles each week in November

Nicola, from Leigh, is running the equivalent distance of a marathon every week in November.

She started pounding the pavements more often during lockdown as travel restrictions made it harder for her to get in the saddle.

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And after seeing how much charities were struggling this year with fund-raising events being cancelled she decided to help the Hindley-based hospice, which has supported several family members.

Steve Rees, who is also doing the running challengeSteve Rees, who is also doing the running challenge
Steve Rees, who is also doing the running challenge

She has been joined in her fund-raising efforts by her friend Steve Rees, who is from Bacup and is raising money for a Rossendale cause which runs a foodbank and supports the homeless.

Nicola and Steve are planning to team up at the end of the month for an arduous 24-mile run taking in the Yorkshire Three Peaks to finish the challenge in style.

For now, though, Nicola is running short distances around her home a couple of times a day to make up the weekly total of 26.2 miles.

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She is also having to fit her charity fund-raising efforts in around her work as a gardener, which has meant a lot of getting her trainers on and getting out in the dark.

Nicola, 37, said: “I’m mad on mountain biking and only really ran to keep fit for that, but I took up running a bit more in lockdown because we were restricted on where we could go.

“I saw on the news there was a lot about how charities were struggling and thought that local ones must be finding it really hard.

“In lockdown one I set myself a challenge of running 20 miles each week so thought this time I would try to do a marathon a week to raise money.

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“The hospice is obviously a great charity. We’ve had family members supported by them in the past and they help people who are terminally ill. I was going to raise money for a cancer charity but then thought lots of people will be doing stuff for them.

“It has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I’ve just started a new job and it’s quite a manual one. I’m trying to do about five or a six miles a day Monday to Friday, splitting it into two runs, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I think I’ve done one run in daylight so far.

“We’re finishing it off by doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks, but we will also have to make up the extra couple of miles somewhere or it won’t be a marathon.”

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