Five years ago Mark Bradshaw struggled to climb three flights of stairs – but now the city office worker is set to undergo the ultimate test of endurance by running ten marathons in ten days.
The 44-year-old, who battled depression and weight issues for more than 15 years before turning his life around, will tackle the mammoth challenge in May – just three years after completing his first marathon in Edinburgh in 2012.
And if he’s successful he will be one of only 79 people who have completed the epic “10in10” trial since it was launched in 2007 by the Brathay Trust, a charity that works with vulnerable young people across the UK.
The heroic feat will see the dad-of four, from Tarbrax in West Lothian, run the same 26.2 mile route around Windermere – England’s longest lake – every day for ten days.
And Mark will be joined by running partner and bus driver Chris Renton, from Melrose, who successfully completed the challenge last year.
“Doing one marathon hurts, so I have no idea what doing ten in a row will feel like,” Mark said. “But the fact it’s for charity will undoubtedly lift me to carry on.”
The IT worker was moved to turn his life around at the age of 39 after climbing just three flights of stairs at his office on Semple Street and finding himself struggling for breath and feeling unwell.
And after shedding more than six stone through an intensive diet and exercise regime, Mark turned to running – completing 11 marathons over the course of last year alone.
He said: “It was really a way of getting out of the depression. I had been sedentary for many, many years. I didn’t do anything and avoided anything active.
“I just came home, sat in front of the telly and the computer and didn’t do an awful lot. I made excuses when the family wanted to do anything.
“I also realised that the kids were growing up and I was missing an awful lot of it. They would go out and play with the dog and I couldn’t really go with them. Now I just enjoy being outside – which is something that I never used to do. I would just go from car to house to car to work.
“It’s about just being outside and seeing the sights and sounds – it doesn’t matter if it’s raining, snowing or blowing a gale. I don’t run with any headphones in or anything.”
Running partner Chris, 50, has already clocked up 40 marathons over the course of his life but insists he still has to train just as hard as ever – and between them, the pair have so far raised £4800 towards their combined target of £6000.
Chris said: “Each day is a challenge and, if I’m lucky enough, I will be able to look up now and again during the races and enjoy the stunning scenery that the Lake District has to offer.”
Godfrey Owen, chief executive of the Brathay Trust, said he was “delighted” the two men were taking part in the event, which chalks up more than £100,000 for the charity every year. He said: “For our charity, runners like them who are fundraisers are a massive part of the charity year for us. They create a huge amount of value in terms of the income they generate and raising our profile.”