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ON YOUR BARKS... Ultra-marathon duo Jon and furry friend Otto get set to become the fastest human and canine running team.

Byline: PHILIP DEWEY Reporter philip.dewey@walesonline.co.uk

ONE man and his dog will be attempting to set a record to become the fastest human and canine running partnership at an endurance event.

Jon Fletcher and his furry friend Otto have taken part in a number of ultra-marathons together.

The 45-year-old and the sixyear-old mutt will be taking part in the Lakeland 100 mile ultramarathon where they will attempt to set a record for the competition.

The former Paratrooper of 12 years bought the Husky crossbreed in 2009 and since then the pair have been inseparable in their running adventures.

Father-of-one and stepfatherof-one Jon said: "When he was a puppy Otto was a bit of an escape artist as he kept disappearing.

"We didn't want to get rid of him so I just tried to channel his energy by taking him out on runs with me.

"We started off with park runs and then I took him with me to do a competition in the Alps over nine days.

"He took to it like a duck to water and was like a wild animal the way he was running.

"I have had a lot of injuries from him pulling me over, including a knee and a cartilage operation."

Jon, from Llanharan, has recently spent time in Alaska where he trained and raced sled dogs having spent the last two winters running a team of 14 Alaskan Huskies and working in temperatures of -35degC.

The pair have so far raised in the region of PS10,000 for charities such as Help for Heroes and the Parachute Regiment through their running and they hope to do more.

Jon, who runs a company in Liverpool providing staff to search ships for illegal immigrants, said: "It's great to be able to give something back to the Parachute Regiment when they called us up asking for us to do some fundraising.

"The Parachute Regiment puts you in good stead for life and you take things a lot less for granted.

"I probably came out a bit premature and I wished I stayed with them a bit longer but you move on with your life.

"It's one of the most special regiments in the world, especially for the British Army, so I'm pleased to help them out.

"It's a good feeling knowing you're raising money for a good cause, especially when you have just completed an event."

The Lakeland 100, which takes place on July 24, is an annual competition in the Lake District.

The circular route takes in the whole of the lakeland fells, includes in the region of 6,300m of ascent, and consists almost entirely of public bridleways and footpaths.

Competitors are expected to be experienced ultra-distance runners with excellent navigation skills.

It will be one of the toughest competitions attempted by Jon and Otto, whose running CV includes the Vale of Glamorgan 31-mile ultra-marathon, the Black Mountains Trail Marathon, the Preseli Beast 25-mile trail and the Talybont 26-mile trail marathon.

Jon said: "Otto is a bit of a character and has become somewhat of a celebrity in running circles and he has got a following when we go to running events, while I just get ignored.

"He is never away from my side and he lives for running - he's a natural.

"I have changed Otto's feeding habits and have been making sure he is fit and healthy before the races.

"He is my number one priority so if there is anything wrong with him I won't race but so far he has had no injuries.

"What most people don't realise is that I have to carry all the extra kit for him on the run because most of the events I enter are for humans and not for dogs."

| To support the pair visit |www.justgiving.com/Jonathan-AirborneOtto

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Jon Fletcher and his Husky dog Otto in training
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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 19, 2015
Words:648
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