Marathon man leads friends in 84-mile challenge

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A MARATHON fan has taken on the challenge to run the 84 miles of Hadrian's Wall in less than a day in his quest to break a running world record.

Mark Cooper, who recently completed 50 marathons in 56 days, has paired up with two friends to run the length of the historic wall in just 17 hours.

The trio, which also includes Andrew Murray, from Meadowbank, and Donnie Campbell, from Skye, set off this morning at 4am from Bowness on Solway, in Cumbria.

They will run the ultra marathon - the equivalent of three and a half regular marathons - with only short breaks every 10 miles to refuel using carb-heavy foods and water. Mr Cooper, also known as Marathon Man, revealed the task would be his toughest run yet.

The 27-year-old, from Mountcastle, said: "I've done plenty of marathons, so I do feel prepared, but you always find yourself wishing for the end after about the 16th mile.

"This time I'll have to be particularly mentally strong. When you run that far your mind can play tricks on you, so I'll have to be very focused.

"I realise it seems a bit daft to want to do something like this so soon after completing 56 marathons, but I haven't stopped since I got back in June. When I got back to Edinburgh, I jumped straight out of the car and headed to Inverleith Park to do the jogscotland 5K run."

Mr Cooper, who only started running just before his 50- marathon challenge and has never completed more than 30 miles in one go, explained they would be in safe hands, as Mr Murray is a doctor who specialises in marathon medical services. All three have run several gruelling races in the past.

He said: "Andy will be keeping an eye on us and we'll be sensible. We'll all be taking in around 15,000 worth of calories during the marathon by eating anything we can get our hands on, such as pizza and flapjacks.

"There are a few new challenges for me as I've never really run in the dark before. Hopefully the distance won't be too tough on my knees because we're on soft ground. A lot of it will be on a path and we'll stay as close to Hadrian's Wall as possible."

The trio are hoping to break the ultra marathon record held by runner Jon Watts, which stands at 19 hours and 55 minutes.

Mr Cooper added: "He doesn't mind that we're going to try and do the 84 miles in under 17 hours. In fact, he'll be waiting for us at Newcastle. He's timing the race and has been really encouraging. Mr Cooper, who works in the legal industry, revealed that he would like to run as part of his full-time job in the future.

He said: "One of my goals now is to help people to realise their potential through coaching and mentoring. I'd like to teach everybody from beginners to advanced runners, for free at first.

"I love the freedom running gives me. It's free, healthy and the scenery always changes. I just feel like I was born to run."