Fact file

Endurance runner Stephen Cowell.
Endurance runner Stephen Cowell.

An Amble man is to undertake an endurance run designed to test paratroopers – 30 years after he last attempted a long-distance race.

Steve Cowell is running the gruelling ‘Paras’ 10’, which forms part of the training for members of the elite paratroop regiment, at Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire on Sunday.

He has not undertaken a distance race in three decades, since he took part in the Great North Run as a teenager.

“I’m 47 now, and I haven’t done any running for about 30 years,” said Steve, who has balanced training four days a week with 14-hour shifts as a driver and carer for a private ambulance service.

“I’m doing it just to prove that old men like me can still cut the mustard.

“I like a challenge on the go. It’s a challenge to do at any age, never mind at nearly 50 years old.”

Competitors in the 10-mile endurance race follow the same course as that taken by paratroopers during their training.

While runners can complete the course in sports gear if they prefer, Steve will be running in army fatigues and boots and carrying a 35lb pack, a task known as the ‘P Company challenge’.

Soldiers must complete the course in less than one hour and 50 minutes in order to pass their training.

Steve says he hopes to beat that target.

“There’s no cheating – it’s weighed at the beginning of the race and weighed at the end, so if you ditch it they’ll know about it,” he said.

“It sorts the men out from the boys.”

Steve, who lost two stone in weight over the course of his four-month training regime, is also using the run to raise money for The Parachute Regiment Charity.

He hopes to raise several hundred pounds, which be used to support past and present servicemen and their families.

And he is already planning further endurance exploits.

His next target is the Peebles Beltane in the Scottish Borders next June – which is run in the dark, with competitors wearing flashlights around their heads to guide them.