Sole man Hugo will sock it to them

Hugo Minney running barefoot in Horden.

Hugo Minney running barefoot in Horden.

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A GP practice worker will tackle this weekend’s Great North Run – in his bare feet.

Hugo Minney plans to run the iconic 13-mile event without the benefit of trainers.

The 49-year-old, who is business development manager at Horden’s Shinwell Medical Group, will be taking part in Sunday’s run in aid of Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) and in memory of his friend Jean Newton.

Hugo, who has ran the half-marathon seven times in the last 20 years, appeared in the Mail in April describing how he has strong links to Africa and often ran barefoot “to remember the people who don’t have shoes”.

He had previously planned to run the last two miles of the London Marathon barefoot but had to wear specially padded shoes after succumbing to painful blisters.

This time he hopes to run the full course of the Great North Run, from Newcastle to South Shields, entirely without the comfort of shoes.

Hugo, who lived in Kenya for six years from the age of three, said: “Man has run barefoot for 220,000 years.

“It’s only in the last 40 years that we’ve had sporting injuries – funnily enough, about the same amount of time that we’ve had specialised running shoes!”

Hugo, who is married to Alison, 59, and dad to Fran, 17, and Emma, 25, and lives in Newton Hall, Durham, admitted running barefoot is painful.

Despite training for two years, he says he still gets blisters and “bits rubbing off”.

Hugo, who has completed two London Marathons and last year’s Kielder Marathon, added: “The most important lesson is that you pick up bad habits from wearing ‘proper’ running shoes.

“The extra grip of shoes makes you faster, but the padding makes you lazy and many people who try to run without padded shoes get injuries straight away.

“I had to re-learn how to run.”

London-born Hugo is running in memory of family friend Jean, who liked to paint the landscapes around Durham, the Browney Valley and Lanchester railway line, which are Hugo’s favourite training routes.

She passed away last year after a four-year battle with Motor Neurone Disease.

Anyone who would like to sponsor him can visit www.justgiving.com/GNR11-Hugo or by sending a cheque to MNDA, PO Box 246, Northampton NN1 2PR, remembering to include Hugo’s sponsorship number 286192 on the cheque.

l ARE you doing the Great North Run for a special reason? Do you have a story to tell about your 13-mile challenge? Contact the Mail newsdesk on (01429) 239380.