Sunderland soldiers pledge to run more than 300 miles for veterans' charity

Two serving Sunderland soldiers are limbering up to run 316 miles in just 30 days for a charity close to their hearts.

Saturday, 19th September 2020, 7:00 am

Sergeant John Dixon, 38 and Lance Sergeant Jonathon Robson, 32, known as Bobby, are embarking on their “October 300” challenge.

They will run 10 miles per day between October 1 and 30, with the exception of Sunday, October 4 when they will take on the virtual London Marathon.

That’s a total of 316.2 miles – about the distance between Sunderland and Southampton.

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Sunderland Coldstream Guards Sergeant John Dixon, left and Lance Sergeant Jonathon "Bobby" Robson.

John, from Monkwearmouth and Bobby, from Hetton, are running to raise money for the Roker-based charity Veterans In Crisis, which offers support to ex-service personnel.

It operates from the Emergency Rendezous (ERV) centre on Roker Avenue, named after locations where armed forces meet if they are separated during military action. The charity is trying to buy the building.

Most of the soldiers’ running will be done in the capital, but they’re making sure that Sunderland will feature too with some mileage planned for along the city’s beaches.

Both men have been posted in various parts of the world, including Afghanistan. They can also be regularly seen on guard duty at Buckingham Palace and St James’s Palace.

They are based at the Wellington Barracks in Westminster.

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Veterans In Crisis is a very important charity to both men.

Bobby said: “We’re both from Sunderland and we know there are difficulties for people coming out of the army with mental health, housing and other problems.

“Veterans In Crisis are trying to buy the building they work from and we want to help out where we can and give something back to the community.

“About 90% of the running will be round London, because that’s where we’re based. The rest will probably be along the beach at Sunderland. We’re in good condition to do 316.2 miles in a month, but I don’t think people realise the severity of the challenge.

“It’s an amazing charity. I don’t think people realise the difference when you come out of the army. It can be a real struggle.”

To support John and Bobby’s efforts, visit

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