Keith aims to run 100 miles...but backwards!

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Dungannon Decaman Keith Clarke is aiming to make history by becoming the first person ever to run 100 miles backwards – and he’ll be raising much-needed funds for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland at the same time.

Keith, who has received the BEM for raising over £100k for various charities, reckons the run will take him up to 40 hours to complete. He has already done the Dublin marathon backwards as a training exercise, taking two guide runners with him to make sure there are no trip ups.

The gruelling challenge will take place at Eskragh Lough near Dungannon on Saturday, December 15, starting bright and early at 6am. Supporters are welcome to drop by and give him a cheer along with his wife Cynthia and children Lance (9) and Madison (7).

“My grandfather passed away from cancer. But so many other people are affected by this devastating disease that I am delighted to raise funds for such a worthwhile cause. Cancer Focus NI is such a good charity and does amazing work with people who have cancer and helping to support their families,” he said.

“There will be a great buzz on the day between friends and clients coming along to the lough to support me and some will run part of the way with me too. The more the merrier. There is no record of anyone having done this before. It’ll be tough but not as tough as going through cancer.”

Cancer Focus NI fundraiser Emma McCann said: “Keith has been such a fantastic fundraiser and supporter for us over the years. I don’t know how he has the strength to do all these amazing feats but he is so inspiring. We are very lucky that he has chosen to support us and we’re very grateful to the local community who gets behind him too. Thank you all.”

The personal trainer is no stranger to extreme sports. Among his many achievements, Keith and two friends completed a Decaman in 2012 which raised £25k for Cancer Focus NI – that is a 2.4-mile swim, followed by a 112-mile bike and then a marathon (26.2miles) each day for 10 days.

Keith also climbed Slieve Donard 12 times in a row, which took 37 hours, and trekked up Slieve Gullion and Slieve Gallion 20 times. Altogether the challenges notch up the same height as Mount Everest.

Cancer Focus NI provides a wide range of services to local people including counselling, family support for children whose mum or dad has cancer, bra-fitting for women who’ve had breast surgery, art therapy and a driving service to take patients to hospital appointments.

The charity also does a huge amount of cancer prevention work in schools, community venues and workplaces including a stop smoking service, and advocates at Stormont for better health policies.

Cancer Focus NI led the successful campaign for equal access to cancer drugs. As a result, patients here can now have the same access as patients in the rest of the UK. It also funds important research into breast cancer at Queen’s University Belfast.

If you’d like to support Keith’s marathon effort visit: http://www.justgiving.com/Keith-Clarke100

Anyone who is concerned about cancer can call the Cancer Focus NI help and support NurseLine on 0800 783 3339 and speak to a specialist nurse.