Make it snappy! Teessider Ian Jolly is set to run the Ali Brownlee Cleveland Centre 5k Riverside Run dressed as a crocodile in the latest leg of an incredible series of punishing runs.
The marketing manager will join Cleveland Centre staff on the starting line for the popular Middlesbrough run that is being sponsored by the town’s largest shopping centre.
But although Ian is part of the external team that looks after Cleveland Centre’s marketing he won’t be looking quite himself – as he’ll be wearing the costume of the Centre’s mascot, Cleveland Croc!
It’s just the latest leg in the Hartlepool runner’s attempt to take part in 12 different fundraising events during 2016 to make the 10th anniversary of his mum, Irene, dying.
Joined by friend Graham Bartlett, Ian is tackling a series of of events in a bid to raise £10,000 for Zoe’s Place Baby Hospice and the British Heart Foundation.
They kicked off their marathon with a 60k duathlon in February before completing a fell race, the Mighty Deer Stalker 10k assault course in the dark, and both the Paris and Manchester marathons.
Then came a gruelling 150-mile coast-to-coast run from Ian’s birthplace in Whitehaven, Cumbria, to Redcar.
Graham, from Durham, who co-owns Newcastle firm Fluid Print, suffered an injured foot and was unable to carry on running when he was eight miles into day two of their five-day coast-to-coast challenge. Fortunately, support guy Robin Dalglish drove from Penrith to Durham and back to collect Graham’s bike so he could complete the journey by riding alongside Ian.
“It was a mental challenge, more than anything,” said Ian. “We were knackered as we did two 12-hour days, 7am to 7pm. I knew I could run a marathon but running five really got to us.”
Next comes the Ali Brownlee 5k on Sunday June 5 when the pair will be joined by Cleveland Centre staff Garry Jackson, Rob Coates, Chantel Swales and Lauren Smith, while Graham will be wearing the costume of Zoe’s Place mascot Zoe Bear.
Then comes another coast-to-coast – this time on a bike – before the Gateshead 10k and Middlesbrough’s Taylor Wimpey Tees Pride 10k, the Great North Run, the Budapest Marathon and finally, in December, the Simonside Cairns fell race
Ian, who keeps in shape via a CrossFit workout every weekday morning, said: “The reason I started this was because it’s 10 years since mam past away. She died of heart disease, while my Dad has suffered a heart attack too, so it was an easy choice to do something to support the British Heart Fund.
The xx-year-old has also grown close to Zoe’s Place through their involvement as official charity of the Cleveland Centre, who Ian works closely with in his role with Hartlepool firm Emmerson Marketing.
Having run last year’s London Marathon for the hospice, he arranged for the pair to call in to the Zoe’s Place HQ in Normanby, Middlesbrough, on the final leg of their coast-to-coast run when they were introduced to several of the children there who presented them with paintings they done especially for the fundraisers.
“I was holding back the tears when the kids gave us the paintings,” admitted Ian. “The pain in our legs left us for a while – though it quickly returned when we started running again!”
But it is the memory of mum Irene who drives Ian on.
“Whenever I get the feeling of wanting to quit during my challenges I just look up and remember who I’m doing it for,” he said. “That always gets me through. I cry after every event.”
• To make a donation to Ian and Graham’s fundraising efforts search ‘Ten Tours’ at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com
• To enter the Ali Brownlee Cleveland Centre 5k or 2k Fun Run in association with South Tees CCG, visit http://www.runmiddlesbrough.com/