Gareth hits the road in the run-up to Christmas

Seven marathons in seven days across seven cities is not how most people would choose to spend the build-up to Christmas.

But Gareth Sanders (pictured, right) is not most people.

The intrepid 23-year-old was on death’s door after being struck down by a rare blood disease on Christmas Eve in 2008.

He would have died, had it not been for blood donors, which help him beat haemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.

The disease affects the liver, bone marrow and spleen, and causes a fall in the number of normal blood cells.

Since his recovery he has taken on a number of challenges to raise awareness of the need to give blood, and his latest venture is also raising money for Kids Out UK, a small charity that provides days out for children with disablities.

The former Chichester College student, who now lives in Bristol where he is a manager at Travelodge, will be running the epic distance of 26 miles, starting in Bristol on December 12. He then visits Birmingham, Inverness, Edinburgh, Manchester, London and Portsmouth, where he finishes on December 18.

All the marathons will start and finish outside a local Travelodge where he will stay each night, except for in London where he will finish at the KidsOut headquarters in Leighton Buzzard.

It was when reading about another man with an appetite for adventure that he decided on a whim to take up his challenge.

“I was reading Ranulph Fiennes’ autobiography, and I got to the chapter where he did seven marathons in seven days, in seven different continents,” he said.

“I knew I had seven days of holiday in December so I thought, ‘why not?’.

“I have been working with the University of Chichester, with regards to nutrition. I know I can run a marathon, but running seven in seven days, I have got to fight the mental aspect of it.

“A lot of the marathons I have been running have been through Exmoor or Dartmoor or the Brecon Beacons, and I have been parking my car a few miles away from the start so I have been running more like 30 miles.”

He hasn’t made his challenge any easier by picking some challenging routes.

“There is a bit of a mixture,” he said. “Bristol is fairly hilly; you climb from the city centre to the suspension bridge. In Inverness I will be following the Lochness marathon route which is fairly hilly, and Portsmouth is offroad.

“We didn’t want to make it too easy.

“Everybody has been really supportive. We are a really tight family, I have got my dad as my support crew, my mum writes to all the sponsors, and my sister is a physiotherapist who deals with all my aches and pains. And my fiance... when I don’t want to go for a run, she kicks me out of the house.”

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