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A Marathon Effort Set to Reap Rewards

A COMMITMENT to the well-being of those servicemen and women injured in the war zones in which the UK is active has been the spur for two Yorkshiremen to put their best feet forward for charity once again in their most daring challenge ever.

The so-called ‘Yorkshire Duo’ of Andy North and Dave Edwards will be undertaking a gruelling 30 day run, cycle and kayak across the UK, France, Spain and Gibraltar in their most gruelling charity effort to date.

The Sunshine Challenge aims to raise £50,000 for ABF/The Soldiers’ Charity, as well as the Force’s Children’s Trust, both causes dedicated to the support of those affected by the aftermath of war.

Perhaps the highlight of the extraordinary challenge will be a daring kayak across the English Channel.

The pair will be heading from

             Catterick Garrison to British Forces Gibraltar and in doing so will undertake:

             The equivalent of 25 marathons

             1,300 miles of cycling

             26 miles of Kayaking over five weeks of physical endurance.

The pair will be running the equivalent of a marathon EACH MORNING, followed by a daily cycle ride EVERY day for 30 days – and then climbing into kayaks when they reach both the Thames and the English Channel to navigate Britain’s two most famous waterways.

They will then continue their epic feat across the length of BOTH France and Spain, finally aiming to arrive at British Forces HQ Gibraltar after five exhausting weeks.

Andy, a catering director from Leeds, and Dave, head chef at the David Lloyd centre in Leeds, undertook a smaller scale though no less gruelling challenge in Britain alone last year, raising £31,450 for The Soldiers’ Charity, smashing their £25,000 target.

But they admit this year’s extraordinary event will be the greatest test they have undertaken so far.

Andy says:

“It’s both daunting and exciting. Neither Dave or myself are professional athletes but have always tried to maintain ourselves in super fit condition.

“We thought we had set ourselves a daunting challenge last year when we undertook 12 daily marathons but this is going to be a true test.

“Neither of us have kayaked much before so while we reckon we can cope with the daily runs and cycle rides – both daunting in themselves – we will be embarking on a new test for ourselves in the 26 mile kayak across the Channel. But is all for two superb causes.”

The pair will cover 1,300 miles on bikes in total, as well as covering the rest of the distance in daily marathons, as well as crossing the Thames and Channel in special kayaks.

“We will be starting at Catterick Garrison on August 19 and will passing through Leeds, Wakefield, Morley heading towards Lincoln, Peterborough and Bedford and then finally down to London.

“From there we will be kayaking some of the Thames before running in the morning and cycling in the afternoon down to Dover.

“We have a support boat booked on August 29 for the Channel crossing weather permitting in order that we can make the six or seven hour crossing.

“And from there we will be continuing down through France and Spain with the aim of reaching Gibraltar at the finish line.

“We were going to simply catch the ferry across the Channel but the pair of us said ‘Why not push ourselves a little bit more……..”

“We have also added the Forces’ Children’s Charity this year who do a great job in supporting those children who don’t always understand how or why they have lost a mum or dad in any of the UK combat zones.

“Obviously with the UK now being involved in multiple combat zones across the globe, the focus on the need for support for those who in turn support those affected by war is coming increasingly into acute focus.

“To be with these guys and women in incredibly humbling.”

The pair is currently in training in preparation for the monumental effort.

As a warm up for the Sunshine Challenge, they have already completed the St Helens 10k run and in doing so they met Corporal Andy Reid of 3 Yorks who was recently recognised with a prestigious National Military Award for overcoming adversity.

Cpl Reid was traumatically injured when stepping on a mine in Sangin, Afghanistan in October 2009. 

He lost both his legs and his right arm, but has continued to get on with life and has become a passionate ambassador for The Soldiers’ Charity.

The ‘Yorkshire Duo’ of Andy and Dave also recently supported the Challenge 66 Ultra Marathon event, meeting Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson of 7 Para Royal Horse Artillery.

Andy says: “Ben has been described by medical experts as being ‘the most wounded soldier to survive his injuries’, but his determination to recover has humbled and inspired everyone that’s met him.”

Anyone wishing to lend financial, sponsorship or other support to the Andy and Dave in their extraordinary effort can do via andy@north.mizen.co.uk, or via the Just Giving website of www.justgiving.com/yorkshireduosunshinechallenge.  Andy is also available on 07879 628 486.

Other details can be found at www.yorkshireduo.co.uk