:Barrow/Mildenhall: Youngster walks 26 miles for armed forces charity

WHEN eight-year-old Christopher Clarke told his mum he wanted to walk a marathon for charity, she never imagined he would complete the challenge let alone set his sights on an even bigger goal.

The young trooper from Mildenhall entered one 26-mile leg of the Great Barrow Challenge in September and raised �200 for Help for Heroes.

Christopher handed a cheque to a representative of the charity this week at the Academy Health and Fitness Centre in Church Road, Barrow where he is a karate student.

But instead of sitting back and taking the glory, the young sports enthusiast is now determined to complete all four days of the endurance event next autumn, which will entail walking 100 miles over a 96-hour period.

Based on the Nijmegen military training marches in Holland, the Great Barrow Challenge is the only UK event that offers extreme running, cycling and walking over four days. Entrants ranging from novices to serious athletes can walk, run and/or cycle the challenge and can take part as an individual or a team.

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The full event is 26.2 miles per day for walkers and runners, and 120 miles for cyclists, but there are also six, 10, 30 and 60-mile courses for the different disciplines.

According to Christopher’s mum Amy, taking part in the challenge was entirely the youngster’s own idea.

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She said: “He started walking in September last year with 10 miles and managed 15 miles in March before progressing to walk the full 26 miles this September. Raising money for Help for Heroes was also Christopher’s choice. Because a family member used to be in the armed forces, he said he wanted to help the soldiers who are wounded because they help keep us safe.”

Despite Mrs Clarke telling her son he could stop the challenge if his feet became sore, he maintained the pace throughout.

“His dad and I have never said we wanted him to do the walk – he asked to do it,” Christopher’s proud mum added.

“Twenty-six miles is a long way by anyone’s standards so we were very lucky to have someone from Help for Heroes to walk with him for the last few miles.

“Christopher is a very determined young man and we are really proud of him.”

He has been learning karate for the past two-and-a-half years, but is now also in training for his next big challenge.

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