A runner with Harrogate Harriers has completed his impressive challenge of completing 52 half marathons in 52 weeks in his 52nd birthday year, and has surpassed his target of £5,200 for charity.
Darren West, who has lived in Harrogate since 1986, had previously run for Martin House Children’s Hospice, but wanted to dedicate more time to the charity, which provides family-led care for children with life-limiting conditions.
I wanted to give Martin House more than one race, so I decided the whole of last year to run for one charity. I have always felt strongly for children that don’t have the privilege of life that everybody else has.Runner Darren West
Speaking to the Harrogate Advertiser Series in February 2014, he talked about beginning his challenge and he has now completed his final half marathon, raising £5,324.
He said: “I wanted to give Martin House more than one race, so I decided the whole of last year to run for one charity. I have always felt strongly for children that don’t have the privilege of life that everybody else has.
“I really enjoyed the challenge to be fair. There were times when it was tough and some courses were hard, but I finished them all.
“I hated Halifax, where it took me two and a half hours to get round a pretty basic course, but I just had to keep going. I was so exhausted and it was the first time I needed help from St John Ambulance.
“I did the Robin Hood half marathon and that was fantastic. I got £100 to run round the course in a dress and I thought I could run as Maid Marian.”
The running does not stop here for Darren, whose wife Jenny and son Harry cheered him on as he raced through his 52nd year - reaching his birthday in November.
He has already completed runs in York and Pocklington this year and he will be doing half marathons in Liverpool and Leeds in the coming months.
Darren has also signed up to do the Great North Run for Martin House, and he is considering the incredible feat of running a rat race along the full length of Hadrian’s Wall, which can take as long as two days with a general target of 24 hours.
He said: “I haven’t rested really, but I have changed my style. It is hard to build real stamina or speed for shorter distances when you do constant mileage each week the same, so you sort of plateau. If anything it tapered off slightly.
“I have been training hard just recently. My knees aren’t that brilliant to be honest, but I was running up to 18.5 miles on a weekend so I don’t feel unfit or unready.
“I can’t just stop running, it’s a bit in my blood. Whenever I get the opportunity to get my trainers on I’m off.”
Martin House events fundraiser Gemma Cross said: “In 2015 we aim to care for 340 seriously ill children and their families. We would like to thank Darren for his support over the past year, his efforts are hugely appreciated.”