Man embarks on 50 marathons in memory of mother

TWO years ago Mark Cooper was huddling in the rain outside his office, braving the cold to smoke yet another cigarette he didn't really want.

It was a moment of such misery that he pledged to make that cigarette his last and get fit. Fast-forward 24 months, and he is preparing to run 50 marathons in eight weeks, raising thousands of pounds for charity.

The 27-year-old from Mountcastle aims to run from Amsterdam to Barcelona, covering a marathon almost every day.

He hopes to raise 25,000 for the head injury charity Headway in memory of his mother Sheila, who died of a brain haemorrhage when he was 14. He embarked on his healthy regime by taking part in the five-kilometre Bupa Great Winter Run in 2007, and is now preparing to run it again as part of his training – but ten minutes faster.

He regularly runs 80 to 100 miles a week and earlier this year completed a fundraising cycle from Lands End to John O'Groats with one of his colleagues at law firm DLA Piper, where he is records manager.

He said:"I heard about Eddie Izzard doing his Comic Relief marathons and thought 'Why not'?"

Mr Cooper will set off on 1 May, and is seeking both charity cash pledges and corporate sponsors to help him organise and fund the run. He has already had one boost, when he won the support of round-the-world cyclist Mark Beaumont, who put him in touch with his personal trainer, Craig Ali.

Mr Cooper will once more take part in the Bupa Great Winter Run on 9 January.

At just five kilometres, the race around Holyrood Park might sound like a relative doddle, but revisiting the course will be a real milestone, he said.

He added: "It's definitely an emotional thing, doing it again, and it's great seeing so many people getting together."

To sponsor Mr Cooper visit www.runwithmark.com or www.justgiving.com/markcoopermakingheadway.

WINTER RUNNING TIPS

You can sign up for the Bupa Great Winter run at www.greatrun.org, and follow these winter running tips from Bupa's Simon Fairthorne.

1. Be seen. Use gear with reflective strips.

2. Stay warm. Remember gloves and a hat.

3. Warm up slowly. Start with five minutes of walking, then stretchand start running gently, allowing five minutes to get to normal pace.

4. Don't cook yourself. Use light layers that can be shed as you get warmer as you run.

5. Don't forget to drink. Just because it is winter, don't forget that you will still sweat and need fluids.

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