TWO brothers are attempting their first ultra-marathon to highlight the plight of key workers, the unpaid carers, and to raise funds for the charity that cares for them, Carer Support South Lakes.
Born and raised in the Lake District, Eugene and Billy McGee will run the 100k Cumbrian Way, from Barrow to Keswick, on Thursday 3 September. Their challenge has seen supporters pledge £1,141, exceeding their original fundraising target.
Eugene, a tree surgeon, and Billy, a social worker, say running is a relatively recent endeavour, although they’ve always hiked and been into outdoor sports. They took up running to maintain their fitness levels and to help with football training, and find it mentally and physically rewarding.
Building up from 5km runs, they’ve tackled trail running challenges including the Lakeland Trails Coniston marathon (42km) and the Hellvelyn 15km.
As Eugene explains: “As amateur runners at best, this is a huge ask of us but it’s for a cause we feel is underrepresented in mainstream media and society itself; stay at home carers. They’re an invisible work force caring for loved ones at home, unpaid, unheard and often sacrificing their own quality of life.
“Billy meets many carers as part of his job, the most harrowing cases he sees include children, as young as eight, nine or ten, feeding, bathing and clothing siblings and parents alike. A recent report advised that the average young carer in the UK spends 25 hours a week looking after others in their household, and this equates to a salary of £12,000. Almost 40% of young carers say no one is aware of their responsibilities.
“We’ve also seen the impact on our dad who’s cared for members of our own family too,” adds Eugene.
The brothers came up with the challenge when their Great North Run, scheduled for September, was postponed.
“As Cumbrians we agree that the Cumbria Way is a rite of passage,” says Eugene, “with arguably some of the best scenery the country has to offer.
“So, we’re substituting it for the GNR. It’s our biggest challenge to date, but with confidence and naivety we are determined to complete it, although we may end up renaming it the Cumbrian Crawl.”
Eugene and Billy have been in training, with gym sessions, cycling, running 5k every other day and long weekend runs. They’ve also been fell running and football training and recently returned from cycling the North Coast 500 route in the Scottish Highlands.
The culmination of their challenge is a celebration event and fundraiser at the Folk Café, Bowness-in-Windermere on Saturday 5 September.
The duo plan to set off from Dalston at 5am on Thursday 3 September, arriving in Keswick around midday and finishing in Ulverston, via Lowick, around 10pm.
Visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/thecumbrianway100k to find out about their challenge.