Sheffield ‘Pram man’ makes it 825 races

John Burkhill
John Burkhill

It’s 825 races and counting for veteran Sheffield fundraiser John Burkhill - who’s gearing up for the Great North Run tomorrow.

John, the city’s ‘Mad Man with the Pram’ who has raised more than £250,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, will be taking part dressed in his signature outlandish costume, complete with green fright wig.

The veteran fundraiser, aged 75, has signed up to the Great North Run for the 18th time, and said he was looking forward to joining his fellow racers.

“I’m hoping to raise as much as I can for Macmillan,” he said.

“I’ve met a lot of people in the North East from doing the run over the years.”

John said his latest run - which he says is his 825th event - would help him on his way to his ultimate target of raising £1 million for the cancer charity.

“It will become a reality, there’s no question in my mind at all,” he added.

“I’m 75 now and one of the oldest people in the Great North Run.

“It’s a lottery just to enter the race, it’s that big.”

John said he has been told he must start the race last, however, because of the risk of his pram getting in the way of runners’ feet.

“There are 60,000 people running so I’ll have 59,999 people in front of me.”

Meanwhile retired teacher Alex Krzyz, 63, who also lives in Sheffield, will be running the half-marathon to fundraise for the Catholic aid agency CAFOD.

The charity works with local communities to tackle poverty in over 40 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Alex, who has so far raised over £650, said: “I’ve run in three half-marathons before, but that was 35 years ago. However, training has gone well, even if the Sheffield hills do become a case of mind-over-matter.

“In the last few years I’ve got more and more involved with CAFOD’s work and I now volunteer for them in local schools such as Notre Dame High School.

“It also gives you a feel-good factor to know that you’re helping to make a difference in the world.”

Alex said his two daughters were heading up to Tyneside to cheer him on.

Angela Powell, CAFOD manager for Sheffield, said: “Running over 13 miles is not a feat for the faint-hearted, so we’re delighted Alex is prepared to put himself through the challenge in solidarity with people living in poverty across the world.”

The run starts in Newcastle and finishes in South Shields after runners have raced through Gateshead. It is the world’s second-largest half-marathon.