Entries for the Simplyheath Great Stirling Run Marathon event will close soon - enter now
40-year-old Richard Harris from Market Harborough is taking on the Simplyhealth Great Stirling Run on Sunday 28 April, to raise money for the MND Association after his cousin Wendy was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease last year.
Richard will be walking the 26.1 miles of the marathon course, despite himself suffering from Peripheral Neuropathy, which has left him with no feeling in his hands and feet.
Richard explains. “My cousin Wendy has just turned 50 and was recently diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease. She has been fit and healthy all her life, always done the right thing, eaten properly, stayed active and this has really come out of the blue.
“We're a close family, and when I heard the news, I really wanted to do something, a gesture for her and to do something positive.”
Richard was himself diagnosed with a condition called Peripheral Neuropathy two years ago, which is a by-product of a B12 deficiency
“Neuropathy is a process where the nerves in your arms and legs slowly die, starting from the tips of your fingers and toes and works its way up.
“As they found out what was causing it, thankfully I've received treatment and the numbing has stopped, but basically both my feet and my hands are completely numb.
“They still work but I can't feel anything that they do.”
Richard admits that reactions to his ambitious challenge have been mixed.
“I'm the person in the family who occasionally has a stupid idea – I'm a person who does unadvisable things. When I've told people, this is what I'm doing, they've either shook their head or burst out laughing, even my mum.
“I'm turning 40 this year and taking away all the other physical problems that I've got, I've never been the most dedicated person when it comes to things like exercise.
“But this is my cousin, she can't do anything with her body.
“My body is pretty knackered and I can't do a lot with it, but even if you can't do a lot, you can do something and try and push yourself to do something that's quite challenging.
“I won't be running it, but I'll be strapped up, walking with a cane.
Richard, who works from home creating digital content, has been fitting in his training to his daily routine.
“The training has been good, normally during the week I'll walk about two hours in the morning and one in the evening. Then every two weeks to ten days I'll go for a longer walk.
“Over twenty miles I'm averaging about 15 minute miles so I feel like I'm in good shape.
“The irony is, over the last year this is the most amount of exercise I've ever done and probably the first time I've used my body in a positive way in my life, it just so happens to be the time parts of it don't work!
“I've changed my diet, I'm quite thin I was 125 pounds so I've managed to put on about 12½ pounds in three months, as I figure I need the energy for this challenge.”
The Simplyhealth Great Stirling Run takes place on Sunday 28 April. Both the marathon and half marathon courses take in the local countryside, imposing castles and historic towns.
The marathon route passes Blair Drummond Safari Park before crossing the historic Bridge of Teith. The route continues through Doune and on to Dunblane. Other sights along the way include the University of Stirling and Wallace Monument, before runners head along the riverside to Stirling and a city centre finish.
For more information or to enter visit greatrun.org/stirling