Runners set off on the first of 12 races in 12 days to raise £250,000

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While most of us will spend the next two weeks racing round the shops buying Christmas presents, a team of determined runners will be tackling the biggest challenge of their lives.

From today, Leeds University graduate Sarah O’Neill, 31, and teammates Meredith Bochmann, 36, Kerry McCarthy, 33, and Matt Pullen, 38, are aiming to run a muscle-burning 12 marathons in 12 days in a bid to raise £250,000 for HOPEHIV – a charity caring for young people affected by HIV and AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa.

They were commencing their epic challenge today, running from Harrogate War Memorial to Leeds Town Hall.

Tomorrow, they will run through Leeds – past St Anne’s Cathedral, through the shopping area, onto The Calls and then past Elland Road football ground and on to Barnsley.

They will then wind their way down the UK, finishing on the Mall, London, on December 23. The HOPE Tour is the last in a series of 12 challenges the runners have undertaken as part of their year-long fundraiser for HOPEHIV: the 12in12.

They have raised £115,000 so far, tackling everything from swimathons to bounceathons and footballathons. For details, visit:

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