‘Everyone says I’m as mad as a box of frogs’

tis  Sgt Spencer Davies.   (120618M2b)
tis Sgt Spencer Davies. (120618M2b)

A soldier from Harrogate is to attempt the impossible on Friday, pushing himself to the limits in an epic charity challenge.

Platoon Sgt Spencer Davies is to run around Harrogate’s Stray for 24 hours non-stop while carrying a 15kg pack.

He has said the bold challenge, which will cover 130 miles and equivalent to more than four marathons, is “more ambitious than crazy”.

“Everyone says I’m as mad as a box of frogs,” he said. “A couple of crumbs short of a biscuit tin.

“But the bigger and madder the challenge, the more I can raise for charity.”

Taff, whose nickname came from his Welsh roots, is an instructor at Harrogate’s Army Foundation College (AFC).

He came up with the plan on a recent seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan.

“A few years ago I cycled for 24 hours non-stop in Iraq,” he said. “That was a crazy idea. But it was easier than this.

“Running with a pack on my back will be hard.”

Taff, who moved to Harrogate eight years ago from Swansea, has been busy training for the challenge, completing 16-mile runs five or six times a week.

“A fortnight ago I broke my toe. It’s a case of running and when the pain kicks in, trying to ignore it,” he said.

“I think you can prepare for it but you can’t really train for it.

“This is more of a mental challenge. The body will give up, but if your mind’s still focused it will pull you through the last few hours.”

The challenge is to run or speed walk for 24 hours non-stop, completing hundreds of 0.6-mile circuits around the Stray near Tewit Well.

“I don’t want to know what’s going to come after the 12-hour mark,” said Taff. “The early hours of the morning will be the hardest, I will be in a deep, dark place at that time.

“The only way to get through this will be with support. The more people there, the better it will be.”

Hundreds of family and friends, including his wife Alexandra Davies from Harrogate, have already volunteered and will set up camp on the route to cheer him on.

Students from St Aidan’s School are to line the bridge at Tewit Well for the start at 2pm tomorrow and soldiers from Menwith Hill will run some laps with him, as will a number of volunteers who have come from all over the country having heard about his challenge.

“Hopefully, people driving past will be tooting their horns for the crazy Welshman when they see me running,” he said.

“I aim to go at a jogging pace, stopping only for toilet breaks. Although I will be stopping to swap my socks.

“I’ll be eating and drinking on the move, lots of carb heavy things like chicken pasta, boiled eggs and bananas,” he added.

Taff, who trains young recruits at the AFC, is hoping to raise as much money as he can for charities including Help for Heroes, Cancer Research, Diabetes UK and the NSPCC.

The 40-year-old, who has served in Iraq, Kosovo and Northern Ireland, is planning to run with a 15kg pack on his back, making the challenge even harder.

“That’s nothing compared to what we carry in Afghanistan,” he said. “The monotony will be broken up by the thought of a pint at the end of it. That will be all I can think about.

“But charity begins at home, I’m a firm believer in that.”

The challenge will begin at the Tewit Well at 2pm tomorrow. For more, visit www.taffs24hourchallenge.com