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Sunday, 27 March, 2005

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Runners aim high to help disabled athletes

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SCALING NEW HEIGHTS... The Clayton Harriers eight who will tackle Everest with Shelly Woods.

A GROUP of Clayton Harriers are scaling Everest to help a local disadvantaged youngster achieve their sporting dream.

The eight - Garry Wilkinson, John Roche, Andrew Stubbs, Craig Moulding, Neil Worswick, Tyrone Morgan, Peter Booth and Paralympian Mark Brown - are hoping to raise enough money to sponsor a local disabled sportsperson.

They are having a year-long fundraising plan with the culmination the 26-mile climb up the world’s tallest mountain.

“We are a group of eight friends who have the common interest of running, we are at the local running club and we are always looking for the next challenge,” said John Roche.

“Garry originally did Everest in 1999 and we got chatting about it and decided that was the biggest challenge we could do.

“We decided to do it for charity and we talked about the Paralympics. We had watched it in Athens because of Mark (Brown) taking part in the 5000m and we all watched things like the wheelchair athletics and basketball.

“And we all said that in all our years of training, we have never seen a wheelchair athlete on our local track. So we decided we wanted to do something about it.

“We got in touch with “Kids Get Going”, a charity which caters for disabled athletes and they told us about Shelly Woods from Leyland, who is a high profile wheelchair athlete going for the Beijing Paralympics in 2008. Some of the money raised will go to assist her in training and travel expenses. But then we wanted someone even closer to us and couldn’t find anyone to help us.

“So we are appealing for people to get in touch with us about local disabled athletes in whatever sport who we could raise money for and help.”

They have so far raised about £9,000 with an aim of £50,000 with various events throughout the year.

But the main one is Everest and the group will head to Nepal in November where, in order to acclimatise to the high altitude, they will ascend to the start over 15 days.

The race will start near Everest Base Camp at 17,500 feet and finish in the Sherpa “capital” at Namche Bazarre at 11, 300ft. The main ascent is 18,500ft.

The course is 26.2 miles and is undulating with two main climbs. It will start at 7am and must be completed before 6pm.

“It will be hard as the eight of us are different levels of ability and experience but we have all upped our mileage and are all determined,” added John.

The charity “Kids Get Going” gives disabled children and young people, up to the age of 26, the chance of participating in sport. It  provides specially built sports wheelchairs to disadvantaged youngsters so they can take part in athletics, tennis, basketball and others sports and also assists with physiotherapy and travel.

And some of the money the eight raise will buy some of these sports wheelchairs which will be donated to the local athletic tracks for general use.

The group are also on the hunt for commercial sponsors - especially to put their name on the special van which the eight have bought. This will take them to Everest but it will also used be used for local charity events.

It has already been donated by the Harriers to help transport items raised for the Tsunami appeal to various centres around East Lancashire.

As well as Everest, the group will be taking part in other events throughout the year, including the Three Highest Peaks in the UK in 24 hours (Snowdon, Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis), an Everest Marathon Ball and Dinner Dance where Accrington's marathon runner Ron Hill MBE will be one of the special guests.

To get in touch or make a contribution contact www.everest-challenge.co.uk.

 






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