Inspiring Craig is gearing up for London Marathon
Dereham's inspirational runner Craig Richardson is completing preparations for the amazing challenge of running in Sunday's London Marathon and has vowed: 'I'm saving my best for the day.'
The 25-year-old former serviceman lost half his leg in an explosion in Afghanistan but is determined to complete the 26 mile, 385 yard run.
He is part of a team raising money for the Norwich Community Sports Foundation, which runs projects for disabled adults and children in Norfolk.
Craig has overcome injuries and set backs during his training but told the Times he had been overwhelmed by the support from local people.
He will have a minibus full of family and friends in London cheering him on and it has been organised by Paul Sandford, landlord of the Railway Tavern in Dereham and owner of the Joint Effort gym in Wells where Craig has done some of his training.
'It will be nice just knowing there are people there for me. The support has been amazing and again Paul Sandford has been great with organising an open day at his gym and tying it in with the charity I'm running for.
'Family and friends have been instrumental along the way supporting me and often saying I must be mad to do something like this! When out running it's a great feeling when people who may not know me but have perhaps read my story show their support whether saying hello as I run past or beeping their horn.'
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Craig was on patrol in Kandahar in October 2008 when he lost his leg below the knee and had intensive rehabilitation at the Ministry of Defence's Headley Court centre.
He has what he calls his 'every day' prosthetic leg and also a carbon fibre blade for running.
Craig, a senior aircraftsman who was medically discharged last October, looked back over his preparations and admitted it had been tough.
'The hardest thing leading up to the marathon has been the the fact that I had a socket that fitted fine and I was putting in some good runs before Christmas but then for no reason what so ever after Christmas it just seemed to change and I had loads of little problems with the socket. I didn't think I put that much weight on after Christmas - maybe it was too much turkey!
'Before Christmas i was doing a 10 miler once a week with no dramas but then after Christmas with the pain I was only managing five miles maximum a week maybe once or twice and in the last 3-4 weeks I've been doing faster eights and 10s. Ideally i would have wanted to do more and it's not great preparation but it's all I could work with and hopefully I'm saving my best for the day.'
Craig has already raised �1000 and hopes the total will be boosted further.
'I am lost for words and I never thought I would raise that. Again thank you to everyone that has sponsored.
'I never really thought about what I was doing, I mainly kept it in my head just to get through the small runs and not think too much about it but now it's days away and I'm seeing more of the run on the internet or newspapers it really has hit home how much of a challenge this is. Naturally I am getting nervous and even more so when Saturday comes and I am in the Excel Centre getting my registration number. I am very much looking forward to not worrying about running for a few weeks at least afterwards.'
To pledge support for Craig visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/CraigRichardson. For information on the team go to www.communitysportsfoundation.org,uk