Dave Reading, 49, decided to quit cigarettes when he began coughing up blood. He turned to running to get him through the cravings and realised it also helped him address years of suffering with PTSD after serving with the RAF.
Dave decided to take on the challenge of his life and run the 837 miles from Lands’ End to John O’Groats – the same as doing 33 of the long-distance races.
He will be doing it in aid of the Prince Harry-backed services charity Walking With The Wounded.
“I was seriously unfit before 2014 and I thought, ‘I’ve got all these children and I really need to sort this out”
And he has one eye of the world record for the feat – nine days, two hours and 26 minutes.
The brave father-of-eight, from Dereham, Norfolk, is now three days into the epic journey.
Speaking as he prepared to leave Lands’ End on Thursday, Dave said: “I was seriously unfit before 2014 and I thought, ‘I’ve got all these children and I really need to sort this out’. “
I was in a very bad way. I was coughing up blood and couldn’t get to the top of the stairs.
“Things wouldn’t have been very good for me at all if I hadn’t managed to quit – and running helped me with that.”
Supported by his wife Terrie, second eldest son George, 14, and a team of helpers, Dave will aim to run 100 miles every 20 hours.
He will have to eat on the go and sleep just two to three hours a night to hit his target time.
Former Aircraftsman Dave said: “I think it’s going to be hell. I’ve tried. It’s going to be a great experience but a painful one. This is more of a military exercise than a running exercise.
“In the military they do a TAB exercise – tactical advance into battle – and it’s a slow, steady pace but you get from point A to point B.
“I’m not an ultra runner so I won’t be doing seven minute miles for 100 miles. But that does mean I’ll be losing out on sleep to get the distance in.”
Dave, who was discharged from service last December, will also be raising funds for the Royal Air Force Association.
In training, his longest run of 150 miles took 30 hours. To make his efforts official, his progress will be tracked by GPS and also verified with his team of helpers taking witness statements along the route.
Explaining his motivation for the mission, Dave said: “I was bullied from a young age. I suffered badly at school and it set me back in those early years.
“Being in service was a similar environment. I remember I was on a training exercise when they talked about PTSD. It was at that point that it really hit home how I was suffering.
“The first step for getting help with PTSD is to find someone to talk to and to open up. Talking is a huge factor in getting through PTSD.
“I wanted to do something and I thought, ‘Running – I can run’!”
Dave hopes to finish in John O’Groats at 6am a week on Tuesday.
To top it all off, he plans to run the London Marathon the following Sunday. can follow him and donate at LEJOGrun2017.co.uk