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26 August 2013, 06:00
A Sunderland Uni student's taking on the charity challenge of his life - running the length of France raising money in memory of his friend.
Matthew Fotheringham, a University of Sunderland law student, will be running and raising money for the Youth Sport Trust in memory of his friend Ainsley Charles, a keen sportsman and fellow student who passed away aged 21 last year.
Matthew will be joined by his friend and fellow law student James Berry, who is running in memory of his uncle who was diagnosed with stomach cancer in 2011, and is raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
Starting in Le Havre on August 1st, the pair set off on their 26-day marathon expedition that will see them cover 700 miles through the French countryside in soaring temperatures to their final destination in Nice.
Averaging between 25-30 miles a day with no break, Matthew and James are running completely unaided with their tents, sleeping bags, clothes and supplies on their back and only each other for company.
Matthew, who had trained for two months prior to the epic challenge had only ever completed a 10k race and described the 350 miles the pair have covered so far.
"It has been incredibly tough so far, both physically and emotionally.
Every day we are forcing our bodies to their limits and it has been exhausting. We are averaging about a marathon a day, completely unsupported.
However, in saying this it has still been incredible, to come out the other side of what we have put ourselves through is an outstanding achievement and we are just staying positive and trying to have fun so we can push on for the rest of the trip."
Matthew is aiming to raise £1,000 in memory of his friend Ainsley, a sport and exercise science student, who he played on the university rugby team alongside.
"Ainsley was a huge sportsman, so I wanted to raise money for something that he was really passionate about. I think he would be pretty proud of us, but he would also think we were lunatics for attempting to do something so extreme.
I am running this in memory of Ainsley and his family who have been through so much this past year and have stayed so strong throughout.
Ainsley was a great lover of sport, and I believe it's only appropriate that the money raised goes to help children and give them opportunities in sport. I hope everyone will think this a worthwhile cause and can give any amount large or small; it will be appreciated no end."
James is aiming to raise £5,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support.