A TEAM of four fathers at a Knowle school have put on their running shoes and are preparing to run an ultra-marathon in memory of a fellow dad.
Kevin Justice, Chris Thorley, Alastair Tyson and Nick Ager – all fathers to year one pupils at Knowle Primary School – are running the 100km ultra-marathon ‘Race to the Stones’ on July 16 in honour of David Smith.
Tragically losing his battle with pancreatic cancer early last year, David left behind his wife, Amanda, and two daughters – seven-year-old Molly and five-year-old Knowle Primary School pupil, Jessica.
But inspired by David’s brave struggle, and wanting to support his family, Kevin, Chris, Alastair and Nick – lovingly christened ‘Dad’s Army’ – are hoping to raise £6,200 for the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.
Speaking to the Observer, Kevin said: “David was a really fun and energetic guy, and an amazing dad so we’re doing it in his memory but also to fund research.
“Watching a young girl the same age as our children go through losing her father made us want to do what we could to help support the family.
“Amanda and the girls have been fantastic in coping, but we wanted to show them we’re still here to support them.”
Training for the challenge is underway – with none of the men having ever attempted anything like this before.
“We started training in November with short, six mile runs,” Kevin explained.
“No one has ever run a distance further than 13 or 14 miles, and though I did the London marathon when I was 21 this is going to be much harder.
“At the moment the challenge is that we are all busy guys – with kids and full-time jobs.
“But we’re making it a family event and showing our kids that their dad’s are challenging themselves for a good cause.”
The fathers are also involving their supporting wives and children in their training – running to the pub on weekends to meet their families for a well-deserved pint.
The Race to the Stones challenge will see the men running, walking – or, as Kevin jokes, crawling – the grueling route from the Chilterns in Oxfordshire to the North Wessex Downs.
Hoping to complete the race in around 12 hours, Kevin said: “It is going to be tough and rather than focus on a fastest time, we’re all dedicated to finishing it.
“David and his family will spur us on the the finish line.
“We set the goal of £6,200 because it signifies £100 for each mile we will cover.
“Sometimes you cannot do anything to beat cancer at the time, but this challenge and the money we are trying to raise is about prevention for other people.”
The team are also hosting a quiz night on Saturday, May 28 at the Royal British Legion in Knowle to help reach their fundraising goal.
Visit www.justgiving.com/RTTS4dads100km to donate online and keep up with their progress on Facebook by searching ‘Dad’s Army Race to the Stones’.