Memorial 9,173km challenge conquered - with a week to spare
PUBLISHED: 12:12 26 August 2020 | UPDATED: 12:12 26 August 2020
A popular charity football match which was transformed into a 9,173km challenge in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak has been conquered.
Friends and family of Beccles man Aaron Wright united to run, walk, cycle or swim the distance to match the £9,173 raised from the matches over the last three years.
Their efforts have seen more than £570 raised for Beccles Lido in memory of Mr Wright, who died aged 22 in May 2017 after a battle with a rare form of bowel cancer.
One of the organisers, Niall Riches, said: “We reached our goal late on Sunday which is absolutely brilliant and we still had a week to spare.
“We didn’t want a challenge that would be too easy and at the start we had about 100 members joined up.
“It looked as though it was going to be quite close, but as the month went on our numbers grew.
“We now have 146 members in our group, and everyone has pulled their weight, but it still hasn’t been easy.
“I was keeping track of everything on a spreadsheet and I thought we would hit it this weekend.
“We organised a sychronised activity and called it ‘Together in the name of Aaron,’ which has been the highlight of the month for me.
“The community effort has surprised me but it is clear they are doing it for him.”
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Friends and family have signed up to the challenge, tracked through excerise app Strava, from around the country and beyond.
The distance, as mapped out by the group, is equivalent to travelling from Beccles Town Football Club to 12 European capital cities, including Edinburgh, Cardiff, London, Paris, Madrid, Bern, Rome, Ljubljana, Vienna, Warsaw, Berlin and Amsterdam, before ending at Carrow Road, in Norwich, with Mr Wright a “massive” City fan.
Mr Riches said: “We have had people who knew Aaron sign up from all over the UK including London, Cornwall and Sheffield, as well as some in Berlin and South Korea, although I don’t know what the connection is there.
“Aaron’s brother lives in the US too and after Sunday’s event we were so close.
“It was 8pm here and I thought no one would go out, but Aaron’s mum messaged his brother and he managed to get us over the line.”
The new challenge could now become an annual event.
Mr Riches said: “We realised we couldn’t have the match this year so we came up with this idea and, rather than have massive group events, people have been going on their own, in pairs or in small groups.
“In the current climate it has been refreshing for people to have something to do.
“It would be good if we could bring this back next year and run it alongside the match to get everyone involved again.”
The match, held annually between Mr Wright’s former teammates at St Benet’s Wasps and the Flying Dutchman team from Lowestoft, was due to be held at Beccles Town Football Club prior to the outbreak.
Donations can be made through the Facebook fundraiser or in person at Hillside News, in Worlingham.
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