“WE thought we would do the run because it’s a tough ask – then we thought we’d do it twice to make it even harder”, said a confident Graeme Cadas.
He is planning to run up Britain’s highest point with workmate Mark Reeve.
To create more interest in their fundraising adventure, they are planning to do it twice in the space of just 48 hours.
Each journey will see the Hartlepool fitness enthusiasts make their way six miles up and then six miles down Scotland’s Ben Nevis – the equivalent of a half-marathon.
They took a breather from their intensive training in the gym at Headland Sports Hall, in the town’s Union Street, to talk about why they are taking on the formidable challenge.
Both men work at JobCentre Plus, off Raby Road. It was through their work that they heard about the Denise Taylor Cancer Trust. It has become their chosen fundraising cause.
Graeme, 39, from Kestrel Close, on the Bishop Cuthbert estate, said: “A lot of people where we work knew a woman called Denise Taylor who died of cancer and we have been able to find out a lot about her, how she battled the disease and how she set up the Denise Taylor Cancer Trust.
“We both keep fit and go to the gym and we thought about doing something for the trust because of the good things we have heard.
“This seemed like a good challenge, while also being something we could do to help the charity. We thought by doing it twice we would get even more interest.”
Mum-of-three Denise died aged 59 after a two-year battle with cancer in July 2010.
The determined Headland woman had already joined forces with friends and colleagues from Hartlepool Borough Council, where she worked, to set up a charity in her name to help others.
The trust offers donations to cancer sufferers to pay for costly transport to treatment, childcare expenses and short UK-based respite breaks.
“She has been an inspiration to a lot of people,” added Graeme, who hopes to use some of that spirit to take on the peak.
He has scaled the 4,400ft-high Scottish mountain four times before and has taken part in the Three Peaks Challenge, which sees people climb Britain’s three highest peaks – Ben Nevis, Snowdon and Scafell – in just three days. But he has never ran up a mountain twice in 48 hours.
Mark, 25, from the town’s Fens estate, has done the Great North Run twice, so is used to the half-marathon distance that each run up and down Ben Nevis will add up to.
But the steep ascent and descent will prove a whole new experience.
Graeme said: “It puts a lot more strain on your muscles running up a steep hill, but surprisingly it’s the way down that is the hardest. Your legs get very tight and it’s easy to cramp up.”
And they won’t even get chance to have a break and take advantage of the view when they reach the peak.
“There will also be snow about half-way up so that’s another challenge we face,” added Graeme.
“It also means we won’t be hanging around at the top. We’ll stop for a quick photo and get moving again, otherwise you risk your muscles cooling, which can lead to injury.
“We’re also worried about midges. Hopefully they’ll have gone by that time we do the run but when I went up before my legs were covered in bites.”
Graeme and Mark are training at least four times a week, doing both cardio and weights, to prepare themselves for the June runs.
They also play football every weekend in local leagues, Graeme for Belford House, in Sunderland, and Mark for Greatham.
They are not setting a time for their challenge, but hope to be up and down inside four-and-a-half hours.
“All we have to do is be as fit as we possibly can,” said Graeme.
“Hopefully that will be enough.”
And then it was back to the treadmill for another 10 weeks of training for what may well be the longest two days of their lives.
To support the runners visit www.denisetaylorcancertrust.co.uk.