TWO Sheffield teachers are preparing to run one of Europe’s toughest marathons to help raise cash for their schools.
Nick Whittaker, the headteacher of Hilltop and Kelford special schools, is running the Mont Blanc Marathon in France with Kelford’s Mathew Seamarks on Sunday, June 26.
They are hoping to raise £5,000 so the Rotherham schools, which teach children with severe learning difficulties, can stage their own version of The X Factor next month - The S Factor.
The pair will join nearly 2,000 runners to tackle 26 miles of mountain trails, climbing just over 3,000 metres between Chamonix and Le Brevent in the French Alps.
Young people from the two schools will also be put through their paces at the S Factor final, at Magna Science Adventure Centre on Thursday, July 21.
Father-of-three Nick, aged 45, said: “We have decided to do these slightly less-than-sensible things because S Factor is so important to our young people.
“It is one of the highlights of our school year because it creates unique opportunities for our young people to learn about music, media, marketing, art, dance and performance. It is inspirational.
“My family thinks I’m mad. I’ve even worn out the dog, who now refuses to come out with me on training runs.”
The pair have been training hard for the challenge, but are wary of picking up an injury on the mountain course.
Mathew, 46, said: “I’d hate to pick up a niggle and have to call out the rescue services to have me winched off the mountain by a helicopter, or strapped on a donkey and led down the mountain to a chorus of slow handclaps from watching spectators.”
They have been joined in their training by Kelford colleague Alison Munks, 34, from Sheffield, who recently ran the Edinburgh Marathon.
Alison added: “Nick plans great training runs, he’s really the leader of the pack. Mathew and I once went on a run without him, got lost and walked far more than Nick would have allowed!”
To make things even tougher, both teachers have promised to be back in school the morning after the marathon to report on their achievement.