Daily

Veteran completes 35 marathons in 35 days to commemorate lives lost in war

Brian Wood completed the ‘gruelling challenge' of running 917 miles for the 890 British lives lost in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts.

A veteran who fought in the Iraq war has completed 35 marathons in 35 days to commemorate lives lost in conflict and to raise more than £190,000 for charity.

Brian Wood, who celebrated his 42nd birthday on Tuesday, was a former colour sergeant in the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and kicked off his Ultimate Sacrifice challenge in October, finishing his final run on Monday.

Last year he raised more than £168,000 for the charity Walking With The Wounded (WWTW) but he hopes his new challenge will beat his record with a total of £250,000 and has already passed £190,000.

Brian run after finishing his final fundraising run
Brian Wood finished his final run on Monday (WWTW/PA)

“I do these things because I want to keep remembering people and keep remembering the sacrifices that were made,” Mr Wood, owner of sport and loungewear business Keep Attacking, told the PA news agency.

“And sometimes it’s easy to forget, but we can’t do that.

“The messages from families we received were a real big motivational factor for me too, to keep getting up and get going in the morning.

“Because it’s a gruelling challenge on the body… After three days, it becomes a real mental endurance.”

Clocking up a total of 917 miles over the 35 days, Mr Wood paid tribute by adding 26 new names of fallen soldiers to his shirt every day.

Each mile he ran – “probably 80%” of them near his local town of Whitehill, Hampshire – represented one of the 890 British lives lost in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and the additional miles were dedicated to the late Queen as a thank you for her service to the nation.

Brian Wood sat next to a war memorial.
Brian Wood said he was inspired to take on his fundraising challenge after watching the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War on TV (Brian Wood/PA)

Mr Wood ran 25 marathons in 25 days last year and started this challenge by running the London Marathon.

He then travelled to the Falklands, where he completed four.

Mr Wood said he was initially inspired to take on his fundraising challenge after watching the 40th anniversary of the Falklands War on TV and “relating to the soldiers’ emotional accounts of war”.

He thanked the “incredible” support of his family and those who have donated.

“I fully understand the climate that we’re in at the moment, and it’s difficult,” he said.

“Just sheer thanks and it’s definitely made a huge difference and it will continue to make a difference to support others, so I’m really pleased and thankful.

“And sometimes we’d get messages from families saying, ‘You’ve run for my son today,’ or ‘My Dad is on your top’… It was really, really touching.”

After finishing the challenge, Mr Wood said he went straight to the pub and “let his hair down” to celebrate with family and friends.

He described being “pretty emotional”.

“It’s a mixture of emotions really,” he said.

“I have managed to achieve what I set out to achieve not only once, but I’ve done it twice now – and I knew how hard it was the first time.

“Coming towards the finish line with a lot of people out to support me and see me was brilliant as well.”

Brian Wood running
Brian Wood commemorated the 890 British lives lost in the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts (Brian Wood/PA)

Mr Wood added that the mother of a man who was killed in Afghanistan even joined him to run a few miles on day 30.

Fergus Williams, chief executive of WWTW, said the charity is “incredibly grateful” to Mr Wood for his fundraising and described his challenge as “phenomenal”.

WWTW helps struggling veterans and their families get back on their feet with support and volunteering to help them with issues involving employment, mental health, relationships and housing.

Mr Williams added: “Walking With The Wounded is incredibly grateful to Brian and all our fundraisers who support the charity and those who served.”

To donate to Mr Wood’s campaign, visit: givepenny.com/TheUltimateSacrifice2022