Completing the ABP Newport Wales Marathon is the challenge of a lifetime for most of the nervous runners waiting to begin their 26.2 mile journey on the start-line.
But Keith James will have already completed the course three times by the time he joins the 6,000 other participants in the heart of the city centre. St. Julians resident Keith is taking on the ABP Newport Wales Marathon four times back-to-back as part of a gruelling 100-mile challenge in aid of Welsh children’s hospice Ty Hafan.
A veteran of around 80 ultra marathons, the 46-year-old runner will battle through four loops of the course, starting at 3PM on Saturday and finishing approximately 24 hours later with the mass-race field. The thought of taking on the flat, fast course through the heart of Newport and stunning surrounding countryside may sound crazy to most, but Keith is relishing the challenge.
“Most people think I’m mad to do it four times,” said Keith. “As a flat road race, most people are challenging themselves to run fast times and personal bests, but for me it will be just as mentally challenging as it will be physically demanding.
“I was due to complete a race called The Arc of Attrition, a 100 mile winter Ultra marathon down in Cornwall, but i unfortunately picked up a nasty virus a couple of days before I was due to travel which meant I had to pull out of the race.
“I have been fundraising for Ty Hafan and obviously now want to fulfil my obligation by still doing a 100 miles, so after signing up for my local marathon, I came up with the plan to run it four times. The first leg should be fine as I’ll be fresh, and the support along the route for the final leg should carry me through, but I’m concerned about the third time around.”
Keith has already smashed his target of £1,000 fundraising target for Ty Hafan, who provide end of life and palliative care for children and their families in Wales, but he is hoping to double that amount by the time he begins his 104.8 mile journey.
“I got into running about 12 years ago and after completing the Cardiff Half Marathon and Paris Marathon, I wanted to keep pushing myself to see how far I could go,” he added.
“Just as race week has come around, my achilles has started to tighten up, but I’m sure once I start all that tension will disappear. It’s my local race so I feel like its fitting to take on this challenge on a course I know like the back of my hand.
“A friend of mine is joining me on the third leg of the challenge to give me the support I desperately need and then I will be joined by my Liswerry runners teammates on the final 26.2 miles. I’m treating it like any 100 mile race, I’ve plotted out my checkpoints so hopefully I can complete this challenge in aid of Ty Hafan, who do brilliant work for children with life limiting conditions and their families.”