Gunton man’s canal run challenge

IT would be a major test for even the fittest of professional athletes.

But while most of us prepare to relax over the Jubilee weekend, James Donnelly is preparing for a gruelling physical challenge – by running 145 miles non-stop in less than two days.

James, 42, will tomorrow join 99 other runners taking part in the Grand Union Canal Run from Birmingham to London.

Organisers describe the event as 'Britain's longest, toughest, non-stop running race', with participants given up to 45 hours to complete the journey via the banks of the canal.

James, who works as a harbour pilot for Great Yarmouth-based Eastport, has been in training since November, running loops around Lowestoft and doing up to 70 miles a week to get himself in tip-top condition.

He has set himself the tough target of finishing between 30 and 40 hours, and yet just five years ago he would never have dreamed that one day he would be taking on such a huge challenge.

James said he took up running as a way of keeping fit and keeping his weight down, and enjoyed it so much he started to take part in regular long, gruelling runs. He told The Journal: 'There are only 100 runners taking part in the Grand Union Canal Run. I was lucky my name got picked out a hat.

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'It is my toughest challenge yet. It is real physical and mental challenge. Some people would think I am mad to do it, but I like setting myself challenges.

'But I'm looking forward to a cold beer and putting my feet up afterwards.'

James entered for his toughest run yet after he completed the 62-mile North Norfolk Ultra Marathon in 14 hours – and decided he needed an even harder challenge. He has also taken part in aquathons at Fritton Lake.

As he sets off tomorrow morning at 6am, he will be supported by his wife Hayley, 39, and children Luke and Sommer, They will be meeting him at provision points, where he can take on food and drink.

However, while they will all spend the night in the comfort of a hotel, he will be continuing his run.

?For more on the run, visit: www.gucr.co.uk

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