In terms of new year’s resolutions, deciding to run 26.2 miles for 365 days on the trot is at the more ambitious end of things. More spectacular still, with just over a month to go, Cumbrian 53-year-old Gary McKee (pictured above, second from right) is on the brink of making it a reality.
To put McKee’s challenge into perspective, it works out at running 183.4 miles a week or 9,563 miles a year – the equivalent of running from the UK to Australia.
‘I mainly run at 6am and work in the afternoons,’ said McKee ‘I haven’t taken any holiday this year so have used all my annual leave on running these marathons. My company has been good about allowing me to work from home a bit too, which has been great as it takes any time out of the commute and allows me to recover quicker.’
In the process, McKee has raised over £230,000 for Macmillan Cancer Care and Hospice at Home West Cumbria. ‘Everyone has been affected, either directly or indirectly, by cancer,’ he said. ‘Charities suffered big time during the Covid years so I wanted to show them my support. My ambition is to get to the £1 million-pound mark.’
Joining McKee for his morning marathons have been a host of runners and cyclists – some of whom have never completed the distance before. ‘There are highlights every day,’ said McKee. ‘One hundred and three people have joined me to run a marathon so far, and 52 people have joined me to cycle one. It’s very special to share that experience with them.’
For his 324th marathon this Sunday (November, 20), one of McKee’s friends has organised an event at the Olympic Park in east London. ‘More than 200 people have signed up for it so far,’ says McKee, who says he’s also hopeful Sir Mo Farah, whose sent him an encouraging message online, might make an appearance.
Completing more than 300 marathons has taken its toll on McKee’s body, but he’s keen to play it down. ‘You have to expect injuries when doing something like this,’ he says. ‘I have had a bit of hamstring tendinitis, but you adapt, slow down and bit and work through it.’
It helps that McKee is no stranger to endurance challenges. His distance-running CV includes a month-long, 1,000-mile journey from Land’s End to John O’Groats and the completion of 110 marathons in 110 days, also for Macmillan. ‘I’ve realised that, although I am not going to set any records, I have an ability to keep going.’
On the subject of records, McKee isn’t bothered about having his 365-marathon challenge ratified as a Guinness World Record. ‘This isn’t about records,’ he says. ‘This is about helping people.’
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