Powered by 'great British produce': Beef farmer, 76, taking on Great North Run

A 76-year-old farmer has been training on the South Shropshire Hills ahead of a charity challenge that will see him take on the Great North Run.

Livestock farmer Mervin Mullard in training
Livestock farmer Mervin Mullard in training

Livestock farmer Mervin Mullard, of Mainstone, Bishop’s Castle, will swap his wellies for trainers on Sunday, September 11, for the half marathon that will see him pound the streets of Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The South Shropshire NFU member will raise funds for the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI).

Mervin had to put the brakes on his charity running because of the Covid-19 pandemic but is back, powered by "great British produce" and said he was relishing the challenge.

“I didn’t run at all during Covid, so training is harder now than I thought,” he said.

“Pre-pandemic I think I would have done this half marathon in around two hours, but I am hoping to finish it in around two hours and 30 minutes.

“Training is going well, and I am sticking to a healthy, balanced diet which includes being powered by some great British produce including dairy, eggs and of course beef.

“As a farmer in this part of the world I have the South Shropshire Hills as my training ground, so I am running on the farm and the lanes, from 1,300ft to 1,600ft and I’m trying to stick to the flat bits."

The grandfather currently sits on the county charity’s committee and over the years he has raised thousands of pounds for RABI.

This will be his third half marathon, although he has completed a marathon and two triathlons as well as at least four 10km runs over the years.

Last time out, during the 35-mile Montgomery Canal Triathlon, Mervin crashed his bicycle but still managed to complete the course despite being injured.

This year he said he was hoping for "a smooth race" and said he just hoped to post a good time and raise some money for a very worthwhile cause. His target is £500.

Mervin’s Just Giving page can be found at justgiving.com/fundraising/mervin-mullard1 and people can also go to the website and search for him by name if they would like to support him.

His grandchildren will be on farm cheering him from a distance while looking after their livestock; his grandson Conan has 500 ewes, while granddaughter Nikita and her husband Tom have 130 cattle.

“After the race I am going on a walking holiday in Scotland to recover,” Mervin said.

“The farm will be very safe with the grandchildren while I’m away and they will be busy tending their animals and looking after things.”

Edward Garratt, NFU Shropshire county adviser, said: “Mervin is quite the guy, and his charity fundraising efforts are superb.

“RABI really helps those in the farming community, of all ages, who are in need, hardship or distress and we fully support their work – good luck Mervin.”

Around 60,000 runners will take part in The Great North Run, and as they cross Newcastle and head towards the traditional finish line in South Shields there will also be a fly-past from The Red Arrows.

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