Lee Collier, 42, is a photographer based in Dorset. Later this year he’ll not only be taking on two marathons for Action Medical Research, but he’ll also be aiming to break two World Records! We caught up with Lee at his home in Blandford Forum to find out more…
So, Lee, tell us more about these two big challenges…
Well, 2018 marks 10 years since I've been running and fundraising for Action Medical Research (I did the London and New York Marathons in 2008), so this year I wanted to challenge myself and to see how far I've come since then.
Sooooooo… I’ll be taking on the Bath Half Marathon on 4 March and the Virgin Money London Marathon on 22 April. But there will be a slight twist: I shall be wearing the Action mascot Paddington Bear™ costume for both events in a bid to break the World Record for fastest time dressed as a mascot!
Wow, OK that certainly sounds like a challenge! Do you know what times you’ll have to beat?
Yes, it’s 1:37:03 for the half marathon and 3:17:57 for the full one.
Other than those previous marathons have you done many other challenges for Action in the past?
Over the years I suppose I've done quite a bit. I've been lucky enough to have done a 10 day trek in China and also a 10 day trek in Namibia. But probably my greatest achievement was organising my own cycle ride: me and a friend cycled from Canada to Mexico in 14 days which was simply an amazing trip. I still can’t believe I did that especially considering that when I came up with the idea I didn't even own a bike!!!
You’re obviously no stranger to endurance events! How do you train for a challenge like these marathon runs?
I ran as Paddington a few years ago so I know what it feels like to wear the costume. I'm a lot fitter and quicker now and that really has been down to simply running more and being more consistent with my training. Last year I competed in 29 races and then gave myself a rest over Christmas; the training started in earnest once again in January! I’ll also have a couple of competitive runs before the race in Bath to get re-acquainted with the suit.
What made you decide to support Action in the first place?
Sadly my ex-wife and I lost our little girl back in December 2005 as she was born too early and asleep. It was without doubt the lowest point in my life, a time when I really didn't know what to do or who to turn to. After a few tough years I decided that I wanted to try and help others not have to go through the same experience as we did. I fancied challenging myself physically and thought ‘why not enter The London Marathon?’ So I looked into charities I could support and came across Action.
My girlfriend, Alie, also had a little boy in July 1997 who had a genetic abnormality and was unfortunately born asleep. Her youngest child is affected by autism with severe learning difficulties and other ongoing issues. Action is just such a wonderful charity in that it helps fund research into a wide variety of conditions. I enjoy doing my bit to help raise awareness, knowing that the more money you raise the more chances there are of future medical breakthroughs.
What are you most looking forward to ahead of these marathons?
Challenging myself really. I'm under no illusion that these are going to be really tough and possibly not even achievable but if it wasn't a challenge then it would be boring! Also the crowds of people cheering you on are unreal; if you've never done London marathon then it’s so hard to even explain the atmosphere, but it really is special.
What are you least looking forward to?!?
Probably the portaloo before the start at London; it’s going to be a bit of a squeeze!
What’s the first thing you’ll do when you cross the finishing line in London?
Wow that's a tough question… probably by then I will be desperate to get out of the costume, and will definitely need a nice cold can of coke! After that I’ll then be looking forward to celebrating with Alie as she is doing her first London this year.
Lee hopes to raise £2,000 for Action Medical Research. You can read more about his challenges – and sponsor him – here.
Feeling inspired? Sign up to one of our 2018 fundraising events here.
©P&Co. Ltd./SC 2018