Isolated long-distance runner hopes to complete marathon in apartment during quarantine

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James Campbell. (Photo: CATERS/MAGAZINEFEATURES.CO.ZA)
James Campbell. (Photo: CATERS/MAGAZINEFEATURES.CO.ZA)

A man is set to run a marathon in his back garden – despite it being less than 6m long.

James Campbell offered to complete the challenge in the tiny outdoor space of his home in Gloucestershire, England, if he got at least 10 000 retweets from when he posted on Monday, 30 March.

His post quickly went viral, racking up more than 54 000 retweets and likes, and now the sports masseuse will begin the gruelling 26,2 mile (about 42km).

The 32-year-old, who’s never run a marathon before or done any training, has placed duct tape about 6,4m apart and estimates he'll have to run between the lines 6600 times.

He hopes his unusual stunt – which will be live-streamed on YouTube – will raise at least £10 000 (R220 000) for the National Health Service Charities Together.

“My work stopped in the past few weeks, as I’m sure it has for a lot of people, and by Monday afternoon I felt like I was starting to lose the plot a bit,” James said.

“I just thought, ‘What’s the most stupid thing I can do in isolation in my house, and what’s the most painful thing I can put myself through?

“I took one look at the garden and thought ‘Right, I’ll run a marathon.’

“I’ve never trained for a marathon, I’ve never thought about running a marathon before.

“The furthest I’ve run before is about 15 to 20km – but as long as I’m raising money, I don’t mind if I’m hurting myself.

“I’m fit and healthy, I haven’t just been sitting on the sofa for the last five years, so I’m confident I can do it.”

James was previously Britain's number one in javelin throwing but was forced to give up the sport in his 20s after undergoing three shoulder operations.

He still plays football regularly but estimates the furthest he’s ever run before is around 12 miles (19km) – less than half the distance of a marathon.

The gym worker initially asked for £10 000 in donations and has already racked up more than £5 700 (R125 000).

James plans to do a combination of running between the two duct-tape lines and running around the garden in circles, and will track his distance using a Fitbit and running app Strava.

The man, whose housemate has left their property due to the lockdown, will complete the run alone but hopes neighbours, friends, and family will pass him snacks and drinks over the fence from a safe distance.

James Campbell

“The moment I thought about it, I knew it had to be the NHS [National Health Service],” James said.

“People are feeling really proud of the NHS at the moment.

“There was only ever going to be one charity to support at the moment, with the scenes that are everywhere.

“For it to have had this response already is absolutely amazing.”

Source: Magazine Features

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