A trio of dedicated fundraisers will be soldiering on in full military gear at this year’s Great North Run.
Three army corporals are taking on next Sunday’s half-marathon in full military kit, weighing 135 pounds or 63 kilos, to raise money for a North East care facility.
Corporal Michael Barkley from Sunderland will run alongside Sophie Fitzwarren and Mark Jackson in boots and combats carrying weights, totalling more than 20 kilos for each corporal.
They’ll be pounding the pavement to raise money for Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Bradbury Wing specialist care facility in Jesmond, Newcastle, which cares for adults with physical disabilities.
The trio, who are all section commanders at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, also want to raise awareness of disability when they take part in the world’s biggest half marathon on September 11.
Corporal Barkley said: “My auntie (Eni Plenderleith) is the service manager there and she’s an inspiration to me. She’s been like a mother to me and from being a young child I saw how much she goes out of her way for other people. She’ll do everything for everybody.
“I visit Bradbury Wing whenever I can and there’s always an occasion and a party. These events bring smiles to the faces of the people that live there. More funds will mean more activities and that will make a big difference.
“My auntie tries to do her best to get extra money for the people at Bradbury Wing, so I’m trying to do that too. We want to raise at least £1,500 each.”
This isn’t the first time Corporal Barkley, who’s been in the army for ten years, has fundraised by running in his military kit.
He said: “I first fundraised for Leonard Cheshire Disability in 2013 when I ran the Great South Run in full kit. It was harder than I expected. I knew I had an injury, but I only found out afterwards that I’d run it all with a broken ankle!
“The other hard bit of the Great South Run was the weather. The Great North Run should be easier because I’m from the North East, I’ll know where I’m running and can work out how far we have to go.”
Their full military kit will not, of course, include live ammunition.
Corporal Barkley added: “We’ll be carrying weights to emulate ammunition. Corporal Fitzwarren is a medic, so part of what she’s carrying will be her medical kit. Corporal Jackson and I will be carrying an average army kit.”