An inspirational fundraiser from Wigan has run 5km for more than 400 consecutive days for charity.
Matthew Melling, from Pemberton, has been donning his shoes every day to raise money to help a local youth centre play in a dodgeball tournament in New York.
The full-time fundraiser, who calls himself the ‘Wigan Runner,’ has now completed 403 successive days of running, swimming and cycling the distance since he started in January 2017.
And the 33 year-old is determined to help raise the £5,000 needed to help the Wigan Youth Zone play at the 2018 Dodgeball World Cup at the famous Madison Square Gardens.
He said: “These children are Wigan’s future; it’s a very important moment for them in their youth.
“It’s a chance to put themselves and Wigan on the map, and it’s a chance for them to represent the town, the North West and England on the world stage.
“Whatever it takes, I’m going to get them there.”
But Mr Melling’s journey has not been without its challenges.
He’s needed physiotherapy and acupuncture for Achilles and knee injuries, and also had to break through mental barriers.
“It was quite emotional when I reached the 365th run; for a long period of time I started to think it wasn’t possible. But when I got to 200 I thought, ‘I can’t quit, I’ve got this far.’”
The runner’s 365th run was completed in Iceland; the 15th different country he’d run through in 2017.
His journey has taken him to as far as New Zealand, Norway and even through Chernobyl, but he still maintains they don’t compare to his home town.
He said: “The best runs are in Wigan, it’s a place that means a lot to me. People are always beeping their horns when I’m out on runs and showing their support; it’s the best town in the world.”
Mr Melling’s feat began in 2017 as a personal challenge, but he then decided to campaign for the Oddballs Foundation and then raised money to buy a van for a local homeless charity through his runs.
“It started on the 1st Jan last year in Norway when I decided to run every day throughout January. After I completed that I wondered if I could get to 50 and that’s when I got involved with Helping the Homeless.”
He started the ‘Wigan Runner’ Facebook page in March of last year, which has now amassed over 2,700 likes, as well as raising £655 towards his target for the Wigan Youth Zone.
Mr Melling said: “The support has been out of this world. So many people have been so kind, even people I’ve never met before.”
“People have even come to me saying they’ve been inspired to start running, so that’s been incredible.”
You can donate to Matthew’s justgiving page here.