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52 marathons in 52 weeks – by the man who doesn’t like running

Desert storm: Mark Watson, seen here during the Marathon Des Sables across the Sahara

It would be quite a challenge for someone who loves running and is an experienced athlete – but for someone who admits he ‘hates’ running, it is a truly amazing feat.

And the man with ‘amazing feet’ is Mark Watson, an accountant from Kendal, who is planning to run no less than 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise money for Carlisle Mencap, the charity which provides support and services for more than 500 adults and children with learning disabilities and their families across Cumbria.

Mark, 50, whose wife Krysia is the children’s services operations manager at Carlisle Mencap, is a military veteran who, in 1989, was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in 1989.

He said: “I hate running. I hate it with a passion. But I can do it and it is amazing medication for my health. After suffering from PTSD for 30 years and after receiving treatment in 2015, I found that running was a great way of controlling the demons.”

Mark says he was inspired to take up running to “give something back” to the charities that helped him combat his PTSD like Here For Heroes.

“I began with the Windermere Marathon in 2016,” said Mark. “Then 18 months later I ran the Marathon Des Sables, the toughest foot race in the world – 250km across the Sahara Desert and completely self-sufficient.

“I then thought ‘how can I push myself further?’ Maybe a marathon a week – and so that is what I’m doing!”

Mark’s challenge will kick off on Sunday, May 24 when he takes part in the Rock’n’Roll Liverpool Marathon. His challenge will then culminate a year later with the Asics Windermere Marathon in the Lake District.

With entry fees alone, it will cost Mark more than £1,500 to attempt this amazing challenge. But, with people’s generosity and possible sponsorship from companies, he is hoping to raise lots of money for Carlisle Mencap.

He said: “I do hope individuals and organisations and firms will help support me to help this amazing charity which does so much good work. The service users and their families really do need this dedicated organisation and every penny I raise will go exactly where it is needed.”

Sheila Gregory, who is CEO of Carlisle Mencap, said: “We are really so grateful to Mark for taking on this incredible challenge to raise money for us. This year we are looking to raise vital funds for our Grace Little Centre for young people in Carlisle.

“It is an important facility for those with learning disabilities and the only one of its kind in the region, but running costs are £150,000 every year and, due to austerity and cuts in funding, for the last few years we have been subsidising the centre to the tune of £30,000 a year from our own reserves.

“That’s not sustainable, so that is why we need the help of the local community and the business sector – and that is also why what Mark is doing is fantastic because he hopefully will raise hundreds if not thousands of pounds. So please support him!”

To support Mark, you can go to his JustGiving page at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mark-watson56

To find out more about Carlisle Mencap, and how you can help support the charity, you can visit the charity’s website at www.carlislemencap.co.uk

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