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Runner's gruelling challenge for hospice

Jack Harper
Jack Harper

For the hundreds of cyclists pedalling from Manchester to Blackpool for Wigan and Leigh Hospice, completing the 63-mile course will be a fair challenge.

But one fund-raiser has decided to push himself that bit further.

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Instead of riding from the city to the golden mile on two wheels, Jack Harper will run the entire distance - the equivalent of more than two marathons - in one day.

The 24-year-old Leigh student got in the saddle for the event last year but decided that on July 8 he wanted to do something different to help the Hindley-based hospice and was inspired by other extraordinary feats of athletic endurance.

Jack said: “I took part in the bike ride last year with my dad and uncle. I cycled from Manchester to Blackpool and then back again but I wanted to top that this year.

“I used to do a lot of running when I was in the army so I decided I would run.

“I read about someone who ran the Pennine Way in just two days and 10 hours who didn’t sleep and only stopped once to eat fish and chips. I thought that if they could do that I could run 63 miles in 12 hours.”

Jack, who is reading ancient history at Manchester University, will have to set off from Trafford at 4am to make his way through Leigh, Aspull, Standish, Preston and Lytham.

Like many hospice fund-raisers, Jack’s efforts are inspired by his personal connection to it, his auntie Chris Harper from Atherton having been cared for there in 2012.

Jack said: “Towards the end of Auntie Chris’s life the hospice staff were able to provide a safe and caring environment. This was invaluable as it allowed her to die with dignity and gave her a peaceful setting where she could say goodbye to those she loved. This gave comfort to both herself and those who loved her.

“We will always be grateful for the care and support the hospice provided and therefore want to raise money to help others that will undoubtedly benefit from their kindness.”

Jack’s impressive long-distance plan has certainly earned the admiration of WLH staff.

Christine Edwardson, community fund-raiser for the hospice, said: “Jack has set himself an incredible challenge to run a route that everyone else is cycling.

“People like Jack are an inspiration and we are so grateful to him and all of our other bike riders who are making a difference to people’s lives by supporting the hospice.”

Entries to the ride are open until Friday June 29. Cyclists receive a T-shirt, refreshments including pies, pasties, sandwiches and chocolates, free transportation to Manchester and back home from Blackpool and a medal at the end. Registration costs £20.

Register to take part at www.wlh.org.uk or contact the fund-raising team on 01942 525566.