Vegan veteran, Stuart Repon-Ness, from Warrington will be running almost 1,500 miles along the West Cost of America to raise funds for Combat Stress, the UK’s leading veterans’ mental health charity.
Starting in April, Stuart will be running 1,447 miles in just 45 days, the equivalent of 55 marathons. The father of four, who works as an injury rehab therapist, is making this journey without a support crew and said: “I will get on the plane with just my toothbrush, my phone charger and my race pack.”
Stuart served in the Army as a physical training instructor and was deployed to Iraq, Kosovo and Northern Ireland before he left the Forces after eight years in 2008. Stuart initally had the idea for his challenge after reading about a famous vegan runner, blogger and author, Scott Jurek, who ran along the East Coast of America.
“When I got back from Iraq I was suffering but the Combat Stress Helpline was a lifeline to me – there was always someone to talk to. The charity really helped me so that’s why I decided to do something to help them. I wanted to do something really big and this challenge seemed to fit the bill!”
“Running has a special place for me, it’s my therapy – I love it. It’s a chance to get away from the daily grind and just think about nothing but the beautiful world around you. I got into it during my first posting in Germany, starting out with short runs of about a mile and half. I quickly found I like the longer distances and now I don’t usually get out of bed for less than half a marathon.”
His first attempt in August 2016 was sadly unsuccessful as he was injured in the first week of the challenge
“After running 200 miles, I was forced to stop due to muscle rupture. I couldn’t believe it. I was on crutches for a while as I couldn’t use my ankle – I’ve never experienced an injury as severe from running. It’s much better now, I started building up the miles in January and am now back to doing 40 mile runs.”
To prepare for this incredible challenge Stuart has been undertaking long runs of 50 miles per week, plus hitting the gym to build up his strength and resistance. His training is focusing on road running to prepare for the conditions in America.
Stuart has been vegan for 5 years, but he says he’s not worried about fuelling himself for the challenge: “The West Coast of America is like the vegan capital of the world so I don’t think I’ll have any problems finding something to eat.”. Stuart has even incorporated his vegan diet in to his training, running 25 miles from Warrington to Manchester to a vegan restaurant to try their burgers.
Fruit provides Stuart with 90 percent of his energy – he can eat up to 20 oranges in the day – but he also enjoys meals such as beans on toast and jacket potatoes. “The best thing about being vegan is the simplicity,” he said. “I take energy bars and dates on training runs for fuel.”
Sue Freeth, Chief Executive at Combat Stress said:
“We’re so grateful to Stuart for taking part in this amazing challenge in aid of Combat Stress. Over the past five years we have seen a 71% increase in referrals, it’s vital that we raise awareness and funds for the charity so we can continue to support every veteran that comes to us for help. We wish him the best of luck in his challenge.”
To sponsor Stuart in his challenge please visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/stusrunning