Three days, two feet and around 90 miles are all that separate Anthony Band from the finish line after a 1,000 mile barefoot run from John O’Groats to Lands End.
The 23-year-old is just 72 hours away from crossing the finishing line much to the amazement of those who thought his plan was a step too far.
Band has completed the majority of his run completely barefoot using only foot care products from skincare giants Flexitol and specialised socks from Sockwa for occasional relief from the unforgiving road surfaces.
Averaging more than 30 miles a day the personal trainer is well on course to become the first person ever to run from John O’Groats to Land’s End without footwear raising money for ‘Help for Heroes’ charity along the way.
“It’s been an incredible journey and I can’t say I won’t be pleased to cross the finish line but what an experience it has been been, amazing,” Anthony said.
“I can not tell you how amazing the support has been from people I have met along the way, motorists stopping to ask what I’m doing, locals in restaurants and chip shops who have dug deep to support me and fellow barefoot runners who have just turned up and joined me along the route.
“It’s been tough, incredibly tough but I was also determined I would finish despite the fact that everyone thought I was mad and despite the physical pain.
“At times my feet have been in agony and I was worried whether they would hold up but they have and despite a few aches and pains and a definite slowing in my pace I have been able to carry on.
“The weather has been atrocious at times and the roads have been far more dangerous than I imagined but nothing was going to stop me and here I am on the final leg of the run.”
Band’s challenge is made all the more extraordinary by the fact that his reasons for running are so ordinary.
After a fairly miserable personal year, made redundant twice from two separate health clubs, he decided he needed to take positive steps and so dreamed up the idea of his coast to coast run.
Band is training to coach clients in barefooted running – a fast growing worldwide phenomena – after taking up the sport two-and-a-half-years ago in an effort to beat shin splints and knee troubles.
Some Podiatrists suggest that barefooted running is better for the spine and posture because runners avoid heel strike – landing on ball of their foot with every stride instead. The sport is rapidly growing and has thousands of supporters worldwide.
Band, added: “I know it sounds daft to some people but it is perfectly natural. Human beings have spent far longer running without shoes on their feet than with them, it just takes a little bit of getting used to.
“The feeling of running in the rain is actually amazing and the skin on your feet quickly adapt to the terrain though some of the cars I have encountered are perhaps not so sympathetic.
“Of course you get a few funny looks and I’ve had people pulling up beside me along the way asking me what I am I doing, but once I’ve explained the cause and my reason’s I’ve had total support.
“I have no particular connection to ‘Help for Heroes’ or the Armed Forces other than mates who are serving and I know there are lads of my age putting their lives on the line and they need our help.
“My target is to raise £2,000 and and I’m hoping people will continue to give generously.”
Band’s family have shown incredible support to his amazing challenge despite a crash on the journey to Scotland which saw father Dave Band’s car written off. Sister Kerry Band raced to the rescue with a support vehicle and since then family and friends have escorted his journey.
The runner, from Horley in Surrey, has also received fantastic support from skincare brand Flexitol who have supplied him with their full range of skin care products – their world renowned Heel Balm cream.
Brand Manager Leanne Adam, said: “We are proud to have supported Anthony during his challenge which has tested his physical capabilities and our skincare products to their limits.
“Heel Balm is well known for it’s theraputic benefits and whilst popular for general and diabetic foot care is now also widely used by barefoot runners in the UK. Flexitol has helped Anthony to stay on course to achieve his dream and we are proud to have played a small part in his success.”
Anthony will run from from Tavistock to Bodmin on Friday, Redruth on Saturday before crossing the finish line at Lands End on Sunday – the final 90 miles of his astonishing challenge.
For any media requests email: Flexitol@onsidepr.com