York runners put Paddington through his paces for Great North Run
A group of dedicated charity runners from York have been training an extra special participant for this year’s Great North Run on Sunday 5th October. Paddington Bear, the fundraising mascot of Action Medical Research, has been put through his paces by members of the charity’s ‘York A Team’.
The world-famous bear will be running to celebrate his 50th anniversary and hopes the charity can raise £50,000 - £1,000 for each of his 50 years.
He will appear on a special platform near the start of the Tyneside event, the world’s biggest half marathon, and once the other runners have set off, he’ll join the race and, fuelled by his famous marmalade sandwiches, try to pass as many people as possible.
Paddington’s alter ego is Mark Sullivan, an experienced runner and lecturer in Health and Fitness at York’s St John University. Mark’s dedication to the charity knows no limits - he even ran as Paddington in the New York Marathon last year while on his honeymoon!
This year’s event will also be particularly special for fellow ‘A Team’ member Brian Hughes, himself a former Paddington Bear runner, who is aiming to complete his 200th half marathon and first event since having a hip replacement operation in 2005. Brian, 55, who runs Brian’s Hair Fashions in South Bank Avenue, will be walking the 13-mile route, while his son Ben, 27, has agreed to run the event for the first time. For long-term Action Medical Research supporter Brian, the work of the charity has really been brought to the fore in recent years – in the 1960s Action Medical Research helped support the development of the original hip replacement procedure.
Another ‘York A Team’ star will be Sheila Latto, from Upper Poppleton, who will be running for the tenth time and on her 70th birthday. Sheila only took up running in her late fifties and ran her first Great North Run for Action Medical Research the day before she was 60. She has also completed six marathons over the last decade, although says she is now taking it ‘a bit easier’!
Sheila and her friends will be rattling buckets along the route to raise as much money as possible.
Last year the group helped to raise more than £40,000 from the event. Action Medical Research is currently funding research into many serious diseases and conditions, including premature birth, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, osteoporosis, blindness, inflammatory bowel disease and stroke.