South Shields runners race length of Hadrian’s Wall to help charities

Ian Stephenson, left, and Mark Wilson, both took part in the ultra-marathon Rat Race event.
Ian Stephenson, left, and Mark Wilson, both took part in the ultra-marathon Rat Race event.

Two running friends from South Tyneside took on an ‘ultra marathon’ rat race challenge in the name of charity as they pushed themselves to the limit.

Ian Stephenson and Mark Wilson, who both run for South Shields Harriers, ran 69 miles between Carlisle and Newcastle along the line of Hadrian’s Wall in a rat race-managed event called ‘The Wall’.

Ian Stephenson, right, and Mark Wilson, both took part in the ultra-marathon Rat Race event.

Ian Stephenson, right, and Mark Wilson, both took part in the ultra-marathon Rat Race event.

Ian finished 80th from 492 competitors, in a time of 14 hours, four minutes, while Mark was 203rd in 16 hours, 19 minutes.

It was all part of a year-long charity challenge for Ian, who is raising money for charities Cash for Kids and the Alzheimer’s Society, and has so far raised about £920.

He wants to run over 1,000 miles before the end of the year, and the current figure of 600 will be topped up later in 2015 when he takes part in the Nottingham Marathon.

Ian, 35, who works on an offshore oil platform 120 miles east of Aberdeen, said: “I started running about three years ago as a way of losing weight and getting fit after my rugby playing days for Westoe RFC ended following the arrival of my children.

Ian Stephenson, right, and Mark Wilson, both took part in the ultra-marathon Rat Race event.

Ian Stephenson, right, and Mark Wilson, both took part in the ultra-marathon Rat Race event.

“I wanted to challenge myself beyond the Great North Run, which I have completed three times, and marathons, to the new and ever-growing popularity of ultra running, just to see what I could achieve.

“On the day, there were a number individual challenges, from avoiding cattle free grazing in some of the fields we went though to slippy sections of paths on the wall, and even weaving in and out and around people drinking on the Gateshead quayside at the finish.

“Crossing the line was painful and a relief, but when it was over, the realisation swept over me about what I had just achieved, taking all the pain away.”

Mark, 37, who works at Nissan in Sunderland, said: “The challenge was a massive focus, and personally I found it very difficult, but more from a training point of view and dedicating so much time to it. Crossing the finish line gave me a feeling of massive relief, and of disbelief that we’d accomplished such a huge distance in the time.

“I took on the challenge to distract me from some personal problems, and keeping fit and having the challenge helped me focus.”

To donate to Ian’s fund, visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/ian2015