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Page last updated at 15:34 GMT, Wednesday, 5 January 2011
Durham man's marathon challenge for charity
Nigel Cook at the finish line of the Isle of Man half marathon
Nigel Cook at the finish line of the Isle of Man half marathon

A County Durham man has set himself the gruelling challenge of running 10 half marathons in 10 different countries and islands - in less than 10 months.

Nigel Cook, from Consett, has left behind his day job as a managing director to try to raise £10,000 for Willow Burn Hospice in Lanchester.

Although he has only done three half marathons before, this isn't the first time he has pushed his limits.

He once climbed the highest mountain in North Africa in a weekend.

Arctic temperatures

His marathon journey started back in August at Ramsey, Isle of Man and finishes this April in Prague, Czech Republic.

The 42-year-old achieved his personal best time of 1:58:40 at the Amsterdam half-marathon in October and completed the Great North Run in September.

He reached the half way point of his challenge in November in Benidorm in Spain and then ran his 6th half marathon in Calvia in Majorca.

Now he faces his 7th half marathon on Friday 7th January in Tromso, Norway where he will be competing 250 miles into the Arctic Circle in the snow and dark, on the same latitude as Alaska and Siberia.

Nigel Cook training for the half marathons
Nigel Cook wants to raise 10,000 for Willow Burn Hospice

The recent icy temperatures and snow in the north-east of England seem to have come in handy for his training.

He said: "Yesterday it was -7 degrees and the wind chill was about -14 degrees and it's set to get colder through the week so it will be quite cold.

"I wear trekking shoes which have got a bit more grip, it's a bit like winter tyres for runners. It is quite tough and it's a lot harder on your legs, but hopefully I'll get round it."

After Norway, he will run in Morocco and Portugal before his final half marathon in Prague in April.

Fundraising

The gruelling challenge is to raise money for Willow Burn Hospice in Lanchester which provides palliative care to the local community and relies on public fundraising to survive.

Mr Cook, the managing director for Elddis Transport in County Durham, was impressed by their work and wanted to help them as much as he could.

He said: "I've supported it for a long time and unfortunately I've known a couple of people who have gone there for the wrong reasons.

"They do a fantastic job, it's an amazing place and once you get to see what they do it just drags you in."

His company started supporting Willow Burn in July 2007 with their trucking4willowburn project.

Nigel Cook
He now faces arctic temperatures in his 7th half marathon in Norway

Since then they have raised over £60,000 through sponsorship and fundraising efforts by the staff.

He said: "I support Willow Burn Hospice and I wanted to do something to raise funds for it and I wanted to do something different. It got a little bit out of hand, what started as a couple of half marathons, ended up as 10 half marathons.

This isn't the first time he has set himself a hard challenge, in the past he has climbed the highest mountain in North Africa in a weekend, trekked for 12 days in Peru and climbed Mount Olympus in Greece.

He said: "When I first launched the emails, I think I got 120 emails and 100 of them mentioned the word mad in them.

"I think you've always got to have a challenge in life otherwise you just sit still. For myself it's also a way to get fit and being a lot healthier so I've just got to try and keep it up."

Supporters can follow his progress at:





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