Northern Ireland news

Co Tyrone man aims to be first to run 100 miles backwards

Keith Clarke who plans to run 100 miles backwards for charity. Picture by Mark Marlow

A CHARITY fundraiser is to run 400 times around Eskragh Lough in Co Tyrone - covering 100 miles backwards.

Keith Clarke from Dungannon, who is raising money for cancer charities, hopes to become the first in the world to run 100 miles entirely in reverse.

The father-of-two said the gruelling challenge would involve almost 40 hours of running.

Mr Clarke was this year awarded the Medallist of the Order of the British Empire (BEM) for his services to charity and community in Northern Ireland.

His previous fundraisers have included the Decaman triathlon, which is the equivalent of swimming the English channel, cycling the length of Ireland four times and running 10 marathons. He also climbed Slieve Donard 12 times in a row, taking 37 hours

He has already completed two Dublin marathons backwards - one in a time of less than 5 hours 30 minutes.

Mr Clarke admitted he was taking a step into the unknown in attempting 100 miles. He first struck upon the idea while preparing for a half marathon in 2013.

"I was running the half marathon and wanted to do something quirky for a laugh and attention so thought I'd do it backways," he said.

"I was severely sore after it because I only did three training runs before. I thought then I'd like to do a marathon."

He said he does three lengthy training runs a week, often attracting puzzled looks from drivers, walkers and other runners.

His challenge will begin from his Eskragh Lough 'base camp' at 6am today and he hopes to finish on Sunday.

Mr Clarke said he would break the run into 10 separate 10 mile segments and would be accompanied by a support team including family and fellow runners.

Money raised will go to Cancer Focus NI.

"There aren't many of us haven't been touched by cancer and that's why I'm choosing Cancer Focus NI as my charity for my last endurance event," he added.

"There will be a great buzz on the day between friends coming along to the lough to support me and some will run part of the way with me too."

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