A fundraiser who vowed to run a marathon every day of 2022 is ready to cross the finish line.
Gary McKee, 53, is set to complete his 365th marathon of the year on New Year’s Eve and complete a challenge which has “sprinkled magic” on his community in Cleator Moor, Cumbria.
The father-of-three has gone through 22 pairs of trainers and, by the end of the year, will have run 9,563 miles in rain, snow and sunshine to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Hospice At Home West Cumbria.
He often ran his 26.2 mile route in the morning before starting a shift as group leader at nuclear site Sellafield.
At the starting line of his 365th marathon in Cleator Moor on Saturday morning, he told BBC One’s Breakfast programme: “The support has been phenomenal and it always is and the West Cumbrians get behind us, but cancer affects everybody so it isn’t just a West Cumbrian thing, it’s a national thing.
“I just hope that people do get behind us and we do raise that million pounds. If we don’t, it won’t be because I haven’t run 365 marathons.
“We’ll celebrate the day, have a good laugh on the route and I’m looking forward to finishing.”
Director of funding and communications for Hospice At Home West Cumbria, Hayley McKay, said: “It’s difficult to put into words how grateful we are to Gary for taking on this unbelievable challenge.
“The physical and mental strength he has shown is incomprehensible.
“Gary has not only raised money for two fantastic charities, he has sprinkled magic on the local community and brought people together supporting him with the challenge.”
Macmillan Cancer Support executive director of fundraising, Claire Rowney, added: “Gary’s achievement and selflessness is off the scale.
“Every single day this year, this extraordinary man has put his body through a marathon to raise money for Macmillan and our friends at Hospice At Home West Cumbria.
“I can only imagine the self-discipline and determination required to achieve this and there aren’t enough words to express our heartfelt gratitude for everything that he has done to help Macmillan support people living with cancer at a time when they need us more than ever.”
The runner has also inspired others to join him.
Chris Young, 29, who ran 90 marathons with Mr McKee, said: “Gary ignited a fire in my belly this year when I began running frequently with him and has given me both physical and mental resilience that I don’t know if I would have ever discovered in myself in a million years.
“I know I don’t just speak for myself on that front as he has inspired not just me or the few, but the entire local community and beyond.
“This challenge has raised a phenomenal amount of money for two fantastic charities, but the impact Gary has provided to the community and people around him is immeasurable.
“There’s going to be a lot of people’s lives a lot better off thanks to Gary’s efforts, myself included.”
England rugby coach Kevin Sinfield joined Mr McKee for a run and described his challenge as “mind-blowing”.
He said: “He’s a brilliant man and it was an honour to be with him in Cumbria to support what he’s doing.
“He supported me in my last challenge and it was really nice to get together and run and chat and laugh with him.”
Mr McKee has already raised more than £400,000 for the two charities but hopes to reach £1 million.
Supporters are expected to cheer him along the streets of Cleator Moor for his final run before he celebrates at the town’s rugby league club, Wath Brow Hornets.
To donate, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/threesixfive