Matt Neale and his partner Andrea Burden

Matt Neale and his partner Andrea Burden

A national park ranger plans to run the distance of more than seven marathons to help a hospital treating his partner for cancer.

Matt Neale, an area ranger in the Yorkshire Dales, will tackle Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast route and hopes to complete the 309km (192-mile) trek in less than three days. The route, normally completed by walkers in two weeks, runs from St Bees Head on the Cumbrian coast, to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire.

Mr Neale, 37, is the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s ranger for upper Wensleydale. His partner Andrea Burden, 44, works as a planning officer for the authority. She is undergoing treatment at a Northallerton hospital breast cancer unit. Mr Neale hopes to raise cash for the unit by sponsorship on his justgiving website.

His target is to run the Coast to Coast, which passes through the Yorkshire Dales just north of his patch, in 60 hours. Although it is not the first long-distance run he has tackled, he said it will be the hardest. He has previously run six 160km (100-mile) challenge events, including the Lakeland 100, and has twice taken part in the gruelling 166km (103-mile) Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc which has a total of 9,144m (30,000ft) ascent, around the Alpine mountain.

The Coast to Coast route has more than 9,600m (31,496ft) of ascent – more than the height of Everest.

Mr Neale said: “I think this will be the hardest I have done.

“I have run for 38 hours continuously on a previous event. I might have the odd 10 minutes sleep here and there but I don’t intend to sleep or stop for several hours – I pretty much plan to keep going from start to finish.

“I’ve also got a dozen other runners who will be running different sections to help keep me going, which will a great help.”

The Coast to Coast route crosses the heather-clad North York Moors before reaching its end on the North Sea shore

The Coast to Coast route crosses the heather-clad North York Moors before reaching its end on the North Sea shore

Cash from the venture will go to the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, North Yorkshire. The ranger said: “Andrea was diagnosed with breast cancer in September last year and she has received fantastic care from nursing staff in the Scott Suite cancer unit at the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton.

“This has highlighted the importance of specialised equipment and support – so I have decided to help them to help others and I hope to raise several thousands of pounds.

“Unfortunately breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, with one in nine women developing breast cancer at some point in their lives.”

His colleagues are backing Mr Neale’s challenge. David Butterworth, the YDNPA’s chief executive, said: “Matt’s effort is truly inspirational. It feels quite humbling to watch him as he attempts to raise as much money as possible for such a worthy cause.

“The staff at the national park authority have been deeply touched by his determination and will be supporting him all the way to the finish.”

He has also received support from Kudu Bikes in Hawes, which has printed flyers and t-shirts and is providing a van for support checkpoints. Lyon Equipment, Suunto, Innov8, and Orange mountain bikes have donated outdoor gear that is being auctioned off to raise money.

Mr Neale begins his run on 25 June.

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