Leeds: Man in charity marathons record bid

Andy McMenemy pictured with Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson before he sets off on the first of his 66 marathons.
Andy McMenemy pictured with Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson before he sets off on the first of his 66 marathons.
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A businessman set off today (Wednesday) on an ambitious world record attempt to run 66 ultra-marathons in 66 days and raise £1 million for charity.

Andy McMenemy, 49, the son of a former soldier, will run the marathons on consecutive days in each of the 66 official UK cities to raise awareness and funds for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.

The tour, called Challenge66, began in Leeds city centre this morning as he started the first ultra-marathon, which is 31.07 miles (50km) - 5.5 miles (8.9km) longer than a standard marathon.

The experienced runner, who runs a business as an inspirational speaker and mentor, will not have a single day’s rest in his attempt to set a new Guinness world record, which currently stands at 52 marathons.

Mr McMenemy was joined at today’s launch by recruiters from Leeds Armed Forces Careers Office and students from Leeds University Officer Training Corps (UOTC).

Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, who lost both his legs and suffered other horrific injuries during an explosion in Helmand Province in 2006, was also at today’s event to offer his support.

Mr McMenemy said: “The support Challenge66 has received so far in the country is incredible, but we do need people to go to our website and donate to help us hit our target.”

Major General Sir Evelyn Webb-Carter, chief executive of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, said: “Andy’s attempt to set a new Guinness world record for consecutive endurance marathons with no rest is a phenomenal feat of bravery and generosity which, I can assure you, is for an extremely worthy cause.

“Ordinary people going about their jobs in often extraordinary circumstances are what the Army is built on and if Challenge66 brings about greater understanding of the sacrifices made by our troops it will be worth every step Andy takes.”

Details of when and where Mr McMenemy will be running can be found on the Challenge66 website: www.challenge66.org

Donations can be made via the site or by texting the word ARMY to 70700.

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, formerly the Army Benevolent Fund, provides a lifetime of support for soldiers and their families, both during active service and beyond, in times of conflict and peace.

PIC: James Hardisty

Photo gallery: Charity runners turn Leeds park into riot of colour