Pride of Britain: Blackburn dad runs Manchester Marathon while fasting for Ramadan

Video report by ITV Granada Reports journalist and presenter Zoe Muldoon.

A father-of-four has been nominated for a Pride of Britain Award for his epic fundraising challenge of completing a marathon while fasting for Ramadan.

Raja Aslam, 35, from Blackburn, only started running four years ago, but he has since completed six marathons and earned the nickname the "smiling runner".

Speaking to Granada Reports, Raja said: "People always say I'm always smiling and I always tell them it's smiles over miles. That's my motto!

"In the four years I've been running, I've raised over £15,000 which I can't even believe. It's always for children in need.

"I've built a school in Pakistan, just for females because there's less access for women and girls in the Pakistan, and I've built a water well in Africa."

Raja recently ran the Manchester marathon while fasting for Ramadan. Credit: Family photo

Raja, who is a foster carer and works with children with special educational needs, most recently completed what most of us would deem an impossible task.

He competed in the Manchester Marathon in 2023 without having any food or water.

Raja ran the whole 26.2 miles during Ramadan, the Islamic holiday where people fast from sunrise until sunset, raising thousands of pounds for a charity close to his heart.

"I did really well, I got past the half marathon point at a good pace. I got to mile 16 and that's when it all started coming down a bit. It was more challenging.

"I got a lot of support from other people, because I was fasting, that encouraged me to keep going

The charity Abu Faisal Trust in Blackburn aims to change the lives of people living in poverty around the world.

Most recently, they raised money to help people affected by the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.

Shakeel Choudhry, a close friend and fellow fundraiser for the Blackburn charity, said: "To see these vulnerable families receive the food parcels, the emotions behind that, is life-changing.

"We're massively proud of Raja being apart of Abu Faisal Trust and I hope on the back of this, with the great work that he does, he becomes our man of pride."

Raja is among four finalists nominated for the Pride of Britain Regional Fundraiser of the Year Award for the North West.

When asked how he felt about his nomination, he said he was "in awe" and if he were to win he would host a "big party" with all of his family.

But for now, he has got his mind set on a new challenge; the Berlin marathon. Whatever the weather, he will be sure to do it with a smile.

What is Pride of Britain?

Pride of Britain Awards celebrate the achievements of truly remarkable people who make our world a better place.

Nominated by the public, the winners are from all walks of life, of all ages, and from all over the country. Their achievements are awe-inspiring and a lesson to us all. They say they are ordinary people, but their acts are truly extraordinary.

Since the first Pride of Britain in 1999, royalty, prime ministers, and hundreds of leading figures from showbiz, sport, politics and the arts have all taken part.

Hosted by Carol Vorderman, the Awards attract an audience of around five million viewers every year in a primetime slot on ITV - making it the highest rated awards show of its kind on British television.

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