Epic stadium run

GETTING SHIRTY: Paul Smith (centre) with Pools manager Colin Cooper and Andrew Robson
GETTING SHIRTY: Paul Smith (centre) with Pools manager Colin Cooper and Andrew Robson

A HARTLEPOOL United fanatic is hoping to prove to be a charity champion when he laces up his running shoes for a mammoth challenge next month.

Paul Smith is no stranger to running having been out on the roads every day since January 1, 2007.

But on Saturday, December 21, he is preparing to tackle a different challenge by running from Newcastle United’s St James’s Park at midnight to the Stadium of Light, in Sunderland, before heading down the A19 to his beloved Victoria Park.

He will then leave The Vic and run to Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium before turning round and running back to Pools in time for the 3pm kick-off against Burton Albion.

Poolie Paul will be raising money along the 65-mile route for The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and The Finlay Cooper Fund.

The 50-year-old, from Sherburn Hill, in Durham, said: “Running is just what I do. And if I can perhaps inspire or help others along the way then that’s more than an added bonus.

“I’ve been lucky not to get seriously injured or ill but it’s as much about mind-set as anything. It’s important to keep things fresh and I’m always thinking of new ways or reasons to run.

“I come up with all sorts of things, some daft, some more serious. I’ve done all the region’s Park Runs in one day, I’ve run in fancy dress and on Remembrance Sunday I ran 11.1 miles to mark the occasion in my own way.”

The Finlay Cooper Fund, named in memory of Cooper’s tragic son, who died aged two after a choking accident, raises cash for children’s charities.

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation supports the early detection and treatment of cancer.

Paul added: “I’ve never run as far as 65 miles before and I knew I had to have some strong motivation to push me to up my training so decided to raise money for charity.

“I’m a huge Hartlepool fan and I really wanted to do something to help Colin Cooper raise funds for children’s charities through The Finlay Cooper Fund.

“I also picked the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation because, sadly, cancer affects us all one way or another. And Sir Bobby’s name unites the North East and its football clubs like no other so his charity seemed an apt choice given my challenge.”

Cooper, who welcomed Paul to the club’s training ground yesterday to give the runner his support, said: “Since I came to Hartlepool I’ve heard lots about Paul and met him quite a few times.

“I know he’s been for a run every day for the last seven years which is incredible, and during that time he’s come up with themes for different dates along the way as well as challenges to keep it interesting.

“However, I think that this particular run he’s planning is epic even by his standards and I’m absolutely delighted he’s chosen to help raise funds for The Finlay Cooper Fund as well as the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.

“It’s been a brilliant 2013 for the Finlay Cooper Fund; we’ve raised a lot of money and raised the profile of the charity so I’m thankful to Paul for helping us end the year on another high.”

Sir Bobby’s son Andrew was also at Maiden castle to thank Paul for his efforts.

He said: “The run that Paul’s undertaking really is a big ask.

“When you think about people running a marathon, which is 26 miles and you think that’s such a long way, but Paul’s running 65 miles. It’s incredible really.”

To sponsor Paul, please visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/LordSmythe1908 and you can follow his progress on Twitter via @LordSmythe.

l Mail view: Page 8