A TIRELESS voluntary worker who carried the Olympic torch last summer will celebrate his 50th birthday with 50 runs over 50 days.
Eddie Birchall, who has run the New Bury Youth Club in Farnworth for more than 20 years, started his challenge before Christmas and will run five-and-a-half miles every day until the end of January.
Mr Birchall will complete the run from The Shakespeare pub on Glynne Street to the end of Plodder Lane and back again — approximately five and a half miles — with 50 different people.
Each person taking part will be charged £5, and the money raised will be split between Christie’s Hospice and Teenage Cancer Trust.
Mr Birchall, of Barton Road, New Bury, is no stranger to gruelling challenges, having run the London Marathon, taken part in the Ironman triathlon and cycled from Land’s End to John o’ Groats.
But this, he says, will be one of the toughest tests he has faced.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to it. I feel good, I’ve trained a lot. I’ll do this run come rain or shine — it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
“It keeps me on my toes and, when I complete a run, I feel like I’ve really pushed myself to accomplish something.”
Volunteers of all ages have come forward, and Mr Birchall has singled out some extraordinary examples.
He said: “My sister has Multiple Sclerosis and she’s doing this challenge on a mobility scooter. I’ve told her she doesn’t need to do it, but she’s said again and again that she’s doing it.
“Terry Barnes, who is 75, has said he’ll do it, and children aged 10 and 11 are doing it on their bikes. It’s incredible how much support I’ve received.”
Mr Birchall, who has also run the New Bury and Farnworth Boxing Club for 15 years, added: “It’s all about the community for me, I love doing a good job for other people.”
Bernadette Tither, Area Learning and Hub Manager at the New Bury Community Learning Centre, said: “Eddie is such a good role model for all the young people who come to this youth club. When he says he’s going to do something, he does it.
“People who are unable to run or walk the distance have put themselves forward for the run — this says a lot about the respect people have for Eddie.”
Mr Birchall will set off from The Shakespeare pub each night at 5.45pm.