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Two friends to run up sandhill 500 times for charity!

Two friends to run up sandhill 500 times for charity!

by Tom Martin (February 2021)

Two Southport men are taking on a gruelling challenge for charity - climbing a steep sandhill 500 times between them in just one day!  

Jon Johnstone, 52, and Colin Reilly, 58, will be testing their endurance to the limits at a sandhill in Birkdale in Southport to raise money for Claire House children’s hospice. 

They said: “We are hoping to raise at least £5,000 and the support has been fantastic already. “It's a unique challenge, climbing a steep sandhill between Birkdale and Ainsdale in Southport 500 times between us on the 27th of March.

“We have main sponsors, Build Right NW and MW Henshaw. The day will be welcomed to bystanders and friends / family, restrictions permitting, with social distancing, with refreshments.” 

As fundraising efforts go, Jon and Colin have chosen a tough one. 

But their efforts are for a fantastic cause. 

They said: “The challenge itself consists of 500 trips up and down the said dune, this approximately equates to 11.5 miles in total, the ascent is comparable to climbing to the summit of Everest. We hope to complete this within six hours.

“We have put so much effort into this. Back in October when going for our weekly runs along the sandhills, we came up with the idea.

“We did a skydive and a Tough Guy assault course some years ago for Claire House which raised a few thousand pounds but we didn't really plan like we are for this.

“We are mixing our training up with road work, pinewoods circuits and of course sandhills!

“It's been tough going and we’ve had a few injuries, but mentally it's helped us through all this lockdown.

“We have to say, we have had so many people contacting us or messaging us to say it's been fabulous to see our dedication.

“Some people have said that our challenge has inspired them to get off the sofa and exercise!” 

The motivation of Claire House is what keeps them going. 

Claire House Children’s Hospice helps seriously and terminally ill children live life to the full by creating wonderful experiences and bringing back a sense of normality to family life.

By providing specialist nursing care and emotional support we help families smile again when life couldn’t get any tougher.

Jon, a support worker with children in residential care (New Horizons) and Colin, ‘The Grass Barber’ who specialises in the care and maintenance of lawns, were both moved by the care the Claire House provides. 

They said: “We had the privilege last time to visit Claire House and witness what they do. We have children of our own. Colin has grandchildren.

“It was such a humbling experience, that's why we wanted to try and exceed our expectations and push for a realistic but significant target for their benefit.

“We would like to thank Pete McDowell for his  time and effort in setting out our training strategy. He’s a very well known man, very respected here and in the surrounding area, due to his martial arts background.

“We would also like to thank our main sponsors who are providing us with kit, event banners, awnings and direction posts, Build Right NW and MW Henshaw.”

To donate, visit the website: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sandhill-500-challenge

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