The region’s very own ‘marathon man’ is a quarter of a way through his staggering 44 marathons in 51 days challenge.
Berwickshire Active School’s coordinator Paddy Dearlove is running the 1,153 mile ‘Run for the Kids’ course to raise money for the Sick Kids Friends Foundation (the charity which supports the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh), and Comic Relief.
Despite never having completed a marathon before in his life, Paddy set off on his mammoth challenge amid a big send off from the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh on May 1, running a 26 mile route to his home town, Dunbar.
With little time to recover, he has since packed in a further nine marathon runs, and is due to complete his 11th today.
And having already picked up painful knees, feet and achilles along the way, it’s by no means a walk in the park. But stopping is not an option. “I’m falling apart a bit, but I have no intention of stopping,” Paddy insisted.
Paddy’s certainly encountered extreme ups and downs during the gruelling 260 miles he’s completed to date. After finishing the first marathon in Dunbar last Sunday, he ran from Coldstream to New Bewick the following day.
But it was 20 miles into day three, the New Bewick to Weldon stretch, when the reality of just what lay ahead really hit home.
‘I can’t begin to explain how much of a lift the kids gave me - I have no intention of stopping’
Speaking at the roadside a visably disgruntled and physically exhausted Paddy explained: “This morning I had a little run and the old knee didn’t feel right but I put some pain relief gel on and that was fine.
“But after Wooler there was a stupid, stupid hill! The only way I’d recommend going up that hill is by cable car, I wouldn’t even drive up it, it’s too steep for any traffic.
“I went up to 720 feet so the other knee got in on the action and since then it’s just been all pain all the way. I have shooting pains in my knees, my hamstrings are as tight as anything - I’m just not in very good shape at the moment!
“This has been the hardest part by far so far,” he added.
But he gritted his teeth and completed the stretch. And as the next two days dawned, bringing with them marathons number four and five in as many days, the spring returned to Paddy’s step beacause the majority of the schools he works with had been worked into the routes for those days.
“I feel a whole lot chirpier than I did on Tuesday,” he admitted.
In his role as Active Schools coordinator, Paddy encourages children to get fit - and by attempting the gruelling 1,153 mile challenge he’s leading by example.
Last Wednesday (May 4) he ran from Dunbar to Eyemouth, via Co’path and Coldingham Primary Schools. And on Thursday, May 5, accompanied all the way by Chirnside Boxing Club’s Michael Black, he ran from Eyemouth to Coldstream, taking in Ayton, Chirnside, Duns, Swinton and Coldstream primary schools along the way.
With the teachers following Paddy’s progress online, the children at each school eagerly awaited his arrival, and became part of the Run for the Kids mission when they ran around their school fields with Paddy, the laps making up part of each day’s 26 miles.
“I can’t begin to explain how much of a lift the kids give me,” he said.
After leaving Berwickshire on Friday, Paddy made his way south through Weldon and Blyth, and finished his seventh marathon at the Angel of the north on Sunday.
After running through more pain to make it to the north east’s most famous landmark, he said: “I was struggling for the last five or six miles with the right knee but I made it to the Angel which is a pretty impressive sight.
“I made the pensioners on their coach trip look like the Russian under 15 gymnastics squad with my very un-nimble shuffle up to the Angel’s feet!”
Having already adopted the famous “Izzard shuffle”, so-called with reference to the running style adopted by comedian Eddie Izzard, who completed 43 marathons for Sport Relief back in 2009, Paddy says he has now added the “Dearlove Drag” to the trade-mark gait, as he battles to complete each marathon.
On leaving Gateshead, Paddy ran via Sedgfield and Stokesley, reaching Nunnington in North Yorkshire last night.
Today he is due to tackle his 11th marathon in 10 days, the 26 miles from Nunnington to Driffield, East Yorkshire.
And despite slowly morphing from “marathon man” to “the mummy man”, thanks to the ever increasing amount of strapping that’s holding him together, Paddy is still going strong. A combination of dogged determination, his £100,000 fundraising target and peanut butter and jam rolls is keeping him going - with his sense of humour, usually, intact.
To find out more about Paddy’s challenge or to donate visit www.run4thekids.co.uk follow progress on twitter @run_4_the_kids or search ‘Run4theKids’ on facebook.