THIRTEEN education professionals from York are running 20 kilometres each every week for 21 weeks to raise money for a food charity.

The fundraisers have set a target of £1,000 to donate to FareShare, an organisation which redistributes surplus food to other charities.

So far, the group - which was originally made up of 10 runners but has grown to 13 - has raised almost £900 within four weeks.

The charity’s website says the work they do has supported 933,178 people per week.

“FareShare is a fabulous charity,” enthused one of the runners, Mark Harney, who is a former teaching assistant at Joseph Rowntree’s School. “It really does help provide the most vulnerable with meals.

“The team of runners would like to thank all of our supporters who have donated so far.”

Graham Ireton, a sociology teacher at Joseph Rowntree’s, says the idea came from a chat he had with the school’s PE teachers, Tom Kite and Paul Simpson. The specifics of the challenge were borne from the current year 2021 - 20km for 21 weeks.

“What’s gone through my mind, and I think everybody else’s, is that despite being in the pandemic, all the people taking part are still in a lucky position,” he said. “There are worries out there, of course, but when you look at what some people are going through, it is a case of, ‘What can we do for them?’

“We’ve all worked in schools and you know children are from different backgrounds, even somewhere like York, which is very well off. There are people needing basics out there. York has one in five children living in poverty so they need the help.”

The endeavour is not just benefitting those whom the charities help out, but the runners as well.

“I think the mental health side for us is a really big bonus while doing something for somebody else,” Graham added.

“I think it’s been really motivating,” explained Dee Bouderba, a languages teacher at Joseph Rowntree’s. “It’s fantastic to know we’re doing it for a really good cause but in terms of keeping fit, getting ourselves out there and keeping that community spirit in a time when we can’t go out and run together, we’re still very much part of a team.”

Between them, the group is set to cover a cumulative 5,460km (3,393 miles), or the distance from York Minster to Memphis, Tennessee. A fair challenge, but one the team relish, and they expect the good work they are doing will carry them through to the finish line.

There is a mix of running experience within the team. Mark is ex-army and runs age-category triathlons for Great Britain while Dee says her longest distance covered has been a mighty 110 miles.

“Then there’s me where it’s an effort to get from my place to the paper shop,” Graham laughed.

Mark said: “From my perspective, I think people are enjoying the challenge but knowing that through something we enjoy doing, we’re raising money or awareness for FareShare, what a great charity it is and what great work it does for the most vulnerable.”

“The fact that you’re doing it for such a good cause will keep people motivated right through,” Dee said. “If you feel at all, ‘I could sack it off today’, you think, ‘No, that’s my commitment and I’m doing it for that charity’.

“If anything, I would expect to get stronger with it as we go through.”

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