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Wednesday, September 28, 2022

North Pole Marathon mission for Sandbach dad

A fundraising runner will have armed protection against attacks from polar bears when he takes part in the North Pole Marathon next year.

Sandbach man Chris Woolnough will compete in sub-zero temperatures, which can plummet to -50C, when he takes part in the race on top of the world next April.

Mr Woolnough said he hoped the extreme challenge would help him raise “as much as possible” for Cheshire Autism Practical Support.

The charity helps families with autism or Asperger’s syndrome by raising awareness, increasing independent skills and intervening earlier to improve outcomes for children.

The foundation has assisted Mr Woolnough and his family, after his six-year-old son Thomas was diagnosed with autism; now he wants to give something back.

“We didn’t know where to turn for help and support. Luckily, we found Cheshire Autism Practical Support who helped us with everything ranging from courses for us to learn more about autism and how we could better support him, and even dedicated swimming lessons,” he said.

“I want to raise as much money as possible so they can help more people like us and more children, and adults, like Thomas.”

Mr Woolnough has been training for the polar marathon by running along a beach on the Wirral, as sand feels similar underfoot to snow.

He said: “I’ve been training now for a good few months and I’m continuing to step it up with six months to go. I’m going to Finland in early December, so I can practise running in temperatures of -20C to -25C.

“It’s all about how to deal with running in extreme temperatures, but the idea is to wrap up, so you don’t get that cold.

“I’ve been training on the beach and been over the Wirral doing six months there.”

Mr Woolnough said people armed with guns would be stationed along the course to protect runners from polar bears “but I’m not really worried about that,” he said, adding: “I’ve done marathons before but nothing like this, nothing at this level – I’ve had to inform my life insurance company!”

Sixty-four runners took part in the last North Pole Marathon held in 2018.

To get there, Mr Woolnough will have to take five flights, with the last landing on the ice at the North Pole.

He said of the fundraising marathon: “Hopefully this enables me to try to raise as much as possible for Cheshire Autism Practical Support to continue the incredible work they do to help families like ours.” The managing director, who works in the financial sector, said he will be “self-funding” the trip and said he hoped businesses would sponsor him.

To donate, visit gofund.me/283b4a19.

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