DEDICATED Paul Smith was feeling sore but exhilarated after he completed a charity challenge to run to all four North-East football clubs in one day.
The Pools fan ran for more than 11 hours in his epic 61-mile stadium run and was given a hero’s welcome when he crossed the finishing line at Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park on Saturday afternoon.
Paul, who had never run that far in one go before, is on course to raise more than £3,000 for the Finlay Cooper Fund, founded by Pools manager Colin Cooper after the tragic death of his young son, and The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Paul, 50, known by his nickname Lord Smythe, said: “I would say this is the pinnacle of my running achievement, it was taking things to a whole different level.
“I feel honoured and privileged to be able to do it to provide support and funds for two worthwhile charities which both have a football theme. I expect to raise well beyond £3,000.”
Durham County Council consumer protection officer Paul set off from St James’s Park, in Newcastle, 12.01am on Saturday, the shortest day of the year.
He then headed south to the Stadium of Light at Sunderland before making the first of two visits to his beloved Victoria Park.
He hit the road again for Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium before heading back to Hartlepool, arriving just in time for Pools’ game against Burton Albion where he was invited to watch the match from the home team dug-out.
“I think I was there as the director of endurance,” said Paul from Sherburn Hill, near Durham City.
Pools boss Colin Cooper said: “He is a smashing lad and what he did was just exceptional. It is an amazing feat.
“Paul was touched and over the moon we chose to do it but he thoroughly deserved it.”
To help boost the cause, donate to Paul at www.virginmoneygiving.com/LordSmythe1908.
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