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Memory of special little girl will push me on; When his cousin's daughter died at just 16 months old, it inspired Craig Richardson to set himself the biggest fitness challenge of his life to raise money for research into cot death. He tells KAREN WILSON how he got started.

LAST summer he'd never bothered to run to the end of his street, let alone tackle a half marathon, but this year Craig Richardson has set himself a series of nine challenges to raise money for a cause very close to his heart.

The 28-year-old from Hebburn is planning to run four half marathons and two 10ks as well as climbing Mount Snowdon, tackling the gruelling coast to coast cycle route and scaling a 20-mile obstacle course known as the Rat Race Dirty Weekend - all within eight months.

"It's all pretty new to me," says Craig, who's single and a trainee accountant at Inspire Financial Management on Team Valley, Gateshead. "I used to play a bit of football and ride about on my bike as a kid, but that was it. When I got a bit older I used to drive down the street, see people running and think what are you doing? Are you doing that for fun? But now that's me!" " Craig started training last August with his friend and former band mate Jimmy Walton and picked up the pace in the New Year. What helped him track his progress was www.parkrun.org.uk - which are free timed 5k runs every Saturday morning with about eight locations around the North East. "It's a really good way to help people get started as it is for all ages and all abilities," he says.

Craig can now run 12-and-a-half miles so is well on track for his first challenge - the Haweswater half marathon in the Lake District on March 4th.

It hasn't been easy though. "I thought because I played a bit of football I'd be fine, but the first 5k I did was a nightmare," he admits. "After a few weeks though it was OK. Recently it's been about the 10 miles mark when I've hit a wall, but it does get easier."

"Apart from the first one, the coast to coast will probably be the hardest one, and I'm a bit worried about the 20 mile obstacle course. Not many people complete it fully as it's really tough."

Although he hasn't followed a strict eating plan, Craig says his food intake has changed naturally as he's started to do more exercise. "It's Continued 26

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MARATHONS AND MOUNTAINS Craig Richardson, who is raising money for SIDS
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 21, 2013
Words:390
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