'Marathon Man' Gary McKee crosses the finish line of year-long challenge

  • "To have raised a million pounds... I think we can class it as job done"

A man who vowed to run a marathon every day of 2022 has crossed the finish line for the final time.

Gary McKee, 53, completed his 365th marathon of the year on New Year’s Eve, ending a challenge which has “sprinkled magic” on the community in Cleator Moor, Cumbria.

The father-of-three has gone through 22 pairs of trainers and has covered 9,563 miles in rain, snow and sunshine to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support and Hospice At Home West Cumbria. The incredible feat has raised £1 million.

He often ran his 26.2-mile route in the morning before starting a shift as a group leader at the nuclear site Sellafield.

Gary McKee with supporters Credit: Carlos Reina/PA

At the starting line of his 365th marathon in Cleator Moor on Saturday morning, he told BBC One’s Breakfast programme: “The support has been phenomenal and it always is and the West Cumbrians get behind us, but cancer affects everybody so it isn’t just a West Cumbrian thing, it’s a national thing.

“I just hope that people do get behind us and we do raise that million pounds. If we don’t, it won’t be because I haven’t run 365 marathons.

“We’ll celebrate the day, have a good laugh on the route and I’m looking forward to finishing.”

Director of funding and communications for Hospice At Home West Cumbria, Hayley McKay, said: “It’s difficult to put into words how grateful we are to Gary for taking on this unbelievable challenge.

“The physical and mental strength he has shown is incomprehensible.

“Gary has not only raised money for two fantastic charities, he has sprinkled magic on the local community and brought people together supporting him with the challenge.”

Gary McKee completed the majority of the marathons in his hometown of Cleator Moor. Credit: Carlos Reina

Macmillan Cancer Support executive director of fundraising, Claire Rowney, added: “Gary’s achievement and selflessness is off the scale.

“Every single day this year, this extraordinary man has put his body through a marathon to raise money for Macmillan and our friends at Hospice At Home West Cumbria.

“I can only imagine the self-discipline and determination required to achieve this and there aren’t enough words to express our heartfelt gratitude for everything that he has done to help Macmillan support people living with cancer at a time when they need us more than ever.”

The runner has also inspired others to join him.

Chris Young, 29, who ran 90 marathons with Mr McKee, said: “Gary ignited a fire in my belly this year when I began running frequently with him and has given me both physical and mental resilience that I don’t know if I would have ever discovered in myself in a million years.

“I know I don’t just speak for myself on that front as he has inspired not just me or the few, but the entire local community and beyond.

“This challenge has raised a phenomenal amount of money for two fantastic charities, but the impact Gary has provided to the community and people around him is immeasurable.

“There’s going to be a lot of people’s lives a lot better off thanks to Gary’s efforts, myself included.”

Gary McKee, right, with wife Susan and children Alfie, Beau and Minnie Credit: PA

England rugby coach Kevin Sinfield joined Mr McKee for a run and described his challenge as “mind-blowing”.

He said: “He’s a brilliant man and it was an honour to be with him in Cumbria to support what he’s doing.

“He supported me in my last challenge and it was really nice to get together and run and chat and laugh with him.”

Supporters cheered him along the streets of Cleator Moor for his final run before he celebrated at the town’s rugby league club, Wath Brow Hornets.

To donate, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/threesixfive

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