Paralympian Richard Whitehead beats marathon challenge with 40 in 40 days

 

Paralympic 200m sprint champion Richard Whitehead has completed his brutal charity challenge to run 40 marathons in 40 days.

The double leg amputee, who took gold and set a world record at the London games, arrives at Land's End in Cornwall this evening having left John O'Groats in Scotland on August 13.

He had earlier described as "exhausting" the challenge in memory of a friend who died of cancer and a fellow amputee who died while attempting to run across Canada.

He said: "Despite the constant aches, pains and endless hills there was one thought that kept me going.

"That thought was a determination to prove that anyone and everyone can live a life without limits.

"Once you have accepted this, you can push the barriers as far as they can go.

"I hope I have been able to leave that message with the people across Britain."

Whitehead said he had used a "good few" blades - prosthetic running legs - and had suffered blisters as well as a cold over the past week.

He said the thought of completing the challenge was now spurring him on.

A natural marathon runner, he turned to sprinting because there was no marathon for him to compete in at the London 2012 Paralympics.

This charity challenge is also a million pound fundraising quest as he hopes to raise at least that amount - through donations and sponsorship of people who want to run alongside him - for the charities Sarcoma UK and Scope.

It is in memory of his friend Simon Mellows, who died in 2005 after contracting a secondary cancer, and as a tribute to Terry Fox who died, aged 22, in June 1981.

He was an amputee and sarcoma cancer sufferer who died as he tried to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research. He never completed his challenge.

Whitehead has run 24.38 seconds for the 200m and two hours, 42 minutes, 54 seconds for the 26.2-mile marathon.

He is the current world record holder for leg amputees in both the half and Olympic marathon distances. He is also the first ever leg amputee to complete the marathon in under three hours.

He also defended his world 200m title this summer.

Whitehead's versatility would be the equivalent of sprint champion Usain Bolt being made to strut his stuff over 26.2 miles or marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe stepping down to run the 200m and still clocking the fastest time in the world.

PA

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