Army veteran prepares for gruelling 10 marathons in five days

A WORLD-record breaking soldier who has served in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan is to march a gruelling 10 marathons in five days to raise money for colleagues blinded in action.

Staff Sergeant Jim Offord already boasts the fastest ever time for running 100km on a treadmill while carrying 40lbs in a standard Army issue rucksack.

Yet nothing can prepare the super-fit squaddie for the intense pressure of walking a total of 266 miles with the weight of a five-year-old child on his back.

Wearing combat boots and full Army uniform, the Forces veteran with 12 years’ experience on the front line with 39 Engineer Regiment will walk non-stop for six-hours before grabbing a few hours’ recuperation and setting off into the dark for an all-night trek.

On his first leg he and his nine colleagues, who have recently returned from the Middle East, will cover more than 30 miles as they seek to raise funds for the national charity St Dunstans.

“Myself and others have returned from the Middle East and have thrown ourselves into this challenge as a way of giving back to the charities that have helped our fellow soldiers and friends in difficult times,” he said.

To prepare, he and his colleagues have trained relentlessly on treadmills and taken part in community events at Tesco Huntingdon and other areas.

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They also completed the nerve-racking Spinnaker Tower Challenge, where they climbed a 170-metre wall in just five minutes while carrying their weighty rucksacks.

Yet SSgt Offord knows the big event from Brighton to Sheffield, which starts on Monday (November 1) is going to be tough.

The 34-year-old has already experienced blisters and blood-soaked feet on his practice runs and fellow marchers have sustained more serious injuries which have sidelined them for days during their 14-week training regime.

They will have to be careful to make sure they stretch and warm down during their six-hour break periods but will not have much time for sleep before they get back on their way.

SSgt Offord, from Huntingdon, admits: “I have been lucky. The guys I have been out on tour with have come back. We felt this was a great charity doing a fantastic jobs for servicemen and women.

“We have been reaching out to people and have had great support from the community and local companies.”

The team set a �10,000 fundraising target but is already working towards a new total after achieving their goal before they even put their first foot forward.

Electrical company Elecheck gave �5,000 to the cause while the rest has come from generous donations on SSgt Offord’s Just Giving website.

To contribute, visit www.justgiving.com/10squaddies.

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