Man, 23, running length of UK for charity inspired by Russ Cook in Africa

Man, 23, running length of UK for charity inspired by Russ Cook in Africa
James Norman is challenging himself to run the length of the UK for charity (James Norman/PA)

A man from Coventry has set himself the challenge of running the length of the UK in 74 days to be able to tell “a good story for the grandkids”.

James Norman, 23, set off from Land’s End in Cornwall on March 30 with the aim of reaching John O’Groats in Scotland in around two and a half months, covering 874 miles (1,406.5km) to raise money for charity and to show that “you can achieve anything, no matter how qualified”.

Mr Norman, a content creator, said he was also inspired to take on the feat by Russ Cook, a British man who ran the full length of Africa, crossing the finish line in Tunisia on Sunday.

“I genuinely thought this would be a good story for the grandkids and if I’m ever going to do something like this, it’s now while I’m young and I’m able to do it,” Mr Norman told the PA news agency.

James Norman running along a roadJames Norman is running the length of the UK from Land’s End to John O’Groats (James Norman/PA)

“I’ve also had some inspiration from Russ Cook and I thought that’s such an amazing challenge and I wanted to do something on a bit of a smaller scale and see what it is like.”

Mr Norman has covered a total of 131 miles (212km) so far and has reached Tiverton in Devon, with plans to run around 20km each day in order to reach his destination, apart from Sundays which he has designated for rest.

He has been documenting his journey on TikTok, taking his 8,500 followers along with him on each day of the challenge.

“The biggest highlight so far is the people I’ve met along the way,” he said.

“As I’m doing this on my own, you naturally meet a lot of people and get talking to people, and hearing people’s stories has just been such a blessing.”

James Norman running up a hillJames Norman said he is carrying all of his equipment in a backpack, saying he feels the weight on the hills (James Norman/PA)

Along the way, he will mainly be camping outside or staying in hostels, carrying his camping equipment in his backpack which he said weighs around 10 kilograms.

“I’ve got no support team so I’ve got everything in my bag which weighs a little bit,” he said.

“I’ve got my tent, my sleeping gear, some spare clothes, all the stuff I need to survive – I feel it on the hills.”

For food, Mr Norman said he is trying to keep it “as cost-efficient as possible”.

“I try and get as many nutrients as I can for as little as possible so tins of sardines, which I’ve been eating cold, it’s not the nicest thing in the world but it’s a great source of protein,” he said.

“I’ve got a little stove so I can boil rice but it’s very basic food-wise at the moment just to keep me going.”

James Norman running along a roadJames Norman said he was partly inspired to take on his challenge by Russ Cook (James Norman/PA)

Mr Norman added that he has “never run a marathon in my life” and he hopes his challenge will show others that “you can achieve anything, no matter how qualified”.

“To be honest, I’m not the best runner and the most distance I’ve done in the past is around 20km, which is what I’m doing daily now,” he said.

“That’s part of the challenge, to really push myself to the limit.

“It’s really a mental game more than anything and once you overcome that barrier and take it day by day, you can achieve anything, no matter how qualified you are.”

With his venture, Mr Norman is fundraising for Tearfund, a Christian charity which partners with local churches with the aim of tackling poverty.

Mr Norman, who is a Christian, said: “Their cause is really close to my heart and I really believe they are doing such wonderful work and distributing the money properly.”

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