Harrogate Army College trio take on Great North Run in full military gear

As if the Great North Run wasn’t tough enough, three corporals from the Foundation College in Harrogate are doing it in full military kit, weighing 135 pounds or 63 kilos.

Corporals Michael Barkley, Sophie Fitzwarren and Mark Jackson are running in boots and combats carrying weights, totalling more than 20 kilos for each corporal.

The full military kit will not, of course, include live ammunition.


Corporal Barkley said:

We’ll be carrying weights to emulate ammunition. Corporal Fitzwarren is a medic, so part of what she’s carrying will be her medical kit. Corporal Jackson and I will be carrying an average army kit.


They’re running to raise money for leading Leonard Cheshire Disability’s Bradbury Wing, which is a specialist care facility in Newcastle for adults with physical disabilities.

The trio, who are all section commanders at the Army Foundation College, also want to raise awareness of disability when they join everyone else taking on the world’s biggest half marathon on Sunday 11 September.

This isn’t the first time Corporal Barkley, who’s been in the army for ten years, has fundraised by running in his military kit.


Corporal Barkley said:

I first fundraised for Leonard Cheshire Disability in 2013 when I ran the Great South Run in full kit. It was harder than I expected. I knew I had an injury, but I only found out afterwards that I’d run it all with a broken ankle!

The other hard bit of the Great South Run was the weather. The Great North Run should be easier because I’m from the North East, I’ll know where I’m running and can work out how far we have to go.


The corporals at the Bradbury Wing


Corporal Barkley ran the Great South Run in just 1 hour and 42 minutes. But as he’s running with fellow corporals this time, the priority is sticking together.


Corporal Barkley said:

The three of us run at different levels and I’m almost a foot taller than Corporal Fitzwarren! We’re aiming to get this finished in two and a half to three hours. What’s important is keeping the three of us together.


Corporal Barkley also explained why they are fundraising for Bradbury Wing:

My auntie [Eni Plenderleith] is the service manager there and she’s an inspiration to me. She’s been like a mother to me and from being a young child I saw how much she goes out of her way for other people. She’ll do everything for everybody.

I visit Bradbury Wing whenever I can and there’s always an occasion and a party. These events bring smiles to the faces of the people that live there. More funds will mean more activities and that will make a big difference.

My auntie tries to do her best to get extra money for the people at Bradbury Wing, so I’m trying to do that too. We want to raise at least £1,500 each.


The corporals meeting and greeting at the Bradbury Wing


Fellow runner Corporal Fitzwarren said:

My current job role within the army is a very busy position and ongoing injuries have prevented me having a healthy training regime, but I know me and my colleagues are fit and robust enough to complete the Great North Run with the excessive weight.

Yes the run will take a toll on our bodies, but we will push through any boundaries we come across by ‘switching off’ our minds and letting our bodies be pushed.

I am a firm believer in the charity and happily supporting it in every way as I have seen the work Eni Plenderleith puts into making the residents of Bradbury Wing happy and overjoyed. I volunteered [for the run] the second I was asked.


The trio will also be joined by Corporal Barkley’s brother Karl on the day.


Corporal Barkley’s impressed auntie, Bradbury Wing service manager Eni said:

I am obviously immensely proud of both Mick and his brother Karl each and every day of their lives, however my heart bursts with pride when I see both my lads giving up their time in their busy lives to participate in this famous half marathon and raise much needed funds.

I hope that mine and my late partner’s passion for making a difference to the lives of disabled people has influenced both of them.


If you would like to find out more or to make a donation please visit the corporals’ Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Britisharmedforces


-Ends –


If you would like further information or wish to attend the event please contact: claire.farrell@leonardcheshire.org or call 020 3242 0204/ 07525 805179 or out of hours press 07903 949388


Leonard Cheshire Disability


Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people. Our services include high-quality care and community support together with innovative projects supporting disabled people into education, employment and entrepreneurship.


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