Gold Star award for the ultimate marathon man
By The Bristol Post | Friday, November 16, 2012, 05:00
A FUNDRAISER who ran more than a marathon every day for a month is the final Gold Star award winner for 2012.
The honour is awarded by The Post, and sponsors First, for amazing achievements, generous gestures and fantastic feats of bravery.
Phil Newman, 52, raised thousands of pounds for the Special Friends Club, a charity which supports disabled children and their families in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
Phil, from Kingswood, ran so hard his feet were bleeding as he covered the final gruelling miles from John O'Groats to Land's End.
On hearing he was getting the award, he said: "I would love to accept the Gold Star award. That's absolutely amazing.
"The most important thing out of all of this has been the Special Friends, so anything that raises awareness even more is very welcome.
"The support I've had from the parents and kids has been absolutely fantastic. They were with me in spirit every step of the way.
"But I wouldn't have done it without the support of my family, especially my partner Jackie, who sacrificed so much to be with me as my support driver."
Phil churned out an average of 32 miles per day throughout October to complete the 983-mile route.
He braved the cold wilds of Scotland, where he was forced to run with a 50lbs pack on his back because he had been let down by his support driver.
As the exhaustion set in on one night in Staffordshire, he collapsed unconscious after a charitable cyclist had taken him in for the night.
The martial arts instructor ran up to 11 hours a day to complete the challenge, pitching his tent by the side of busy roads as he tried to recharge his batteries before the relentless running ahead.
After a final push, the father-of-two managed to complete the challenge in the dark and driving rain, at 9.30pm on October 31.
"As I arrived at the finishing post in Land's End, suddenly all was well with the world," he said.
"It was hailing and raining and to finally get there was amazing. It was quite surreal after a month of non-stop running.
"I had a wave of emotions – sad, happy and proud all at the same time as I remembered who I was doing it for."
The Special Friends Club, run by parent volunteers, organises activities and opportunities for families and children affected by disabilities.
Phil, who is also a support worker and Bristol Observer delivery man, chose the cause because one of his partner Jackie's children, 12-year-old Kyran, has severe autism.
Jenny MacLeod, general manager of First in Bristol, said: "Phil's story is awe-inspiring. To run 32 miles a day, every day for a month is simply unimaginable. Phil has pushed himself beyond what many of us would think possible and in doing so he has raised funds for charity.
"He deserves this recognition and Gold Star award. Well done Phil!"
All the recipients will receive their awards at a special dinner next month.
To donate to Phil Newman's cause, visit www.charitygiving.co.uk/philruns1000.