Updated: Saturday, 4th April 2020 @ 10:16am

Manchester 'marathon man' continues charity quest

Manchester 'marathon man' continues charity quest

By Joshua Powling

Dressed as Little Miss Naughty, one Manchester ‘marathon man’ continued his epic charity quest at last week’s 2011 London Marathon.

Noel Bresland, 35, a consultant in the city centre, aims to run 223 marathons, one for every day his prematurely-born nephew lived.

He has raised over £36,000 for Children With Leukaemia and Bliss, two years into his ‘223 Challenge’.

While he enjoyed the occasion of the London Marathon, dressed as a Little Miss Character, he remains focused on why he is running.

He said: “At any point should it become more about running and less about Ethan’s memory I’ll stop straight away.”

One of six runners in a Mister Men or Little Miss costume, he had intended to challenge the London record for a runner dressed as a fictional character.

But the combination of a hot day and 12 kg costume defeated him, although he met Olympic gold medallist Jonathan Edwards.

“It was a fascinating experience with all the media attention. I was in the green start too, put in with all the people breaking records.”

Noel started running marathons for Children With Leukaemia after meeting them at a stall at the London Marathon in 2003, but it was a family tragedy that made him escalate his fundraising activities.

His nephew and niece, twins, were born prematurely in January 2007, and after a long battle his nephew Ethan died months later, and a year and a half later, the 223 Challenge was born.

“The way I can best remember him is by raising awareness and more funds,” Noel added.

“It was a tough day to see my sister and her husband, carrying out a coffin on his own, putting it in the car.

“It is a memory which will unfortunately stay with me for the rest of my life.”

And while grief still remains with the family, Ethan’s twin sister Erin remains in good health.

He was full of praise and admiration for the work Bliss, a UK charity that helps care for premature and sick babies, perform.

“They provide such understated help, getting families through it, putting them up near hospitals,” he said.

“It’s a marathon for families until they’re in the clear.”

Noel recently ran a marathon on a treadmill inside the London Eye, completing the run in a capsule as the wheel made 17 revolutions.

They also had twenty-six people running a mile each on a treadmill at the base of the wheel, but it was Noel’s four-year-old niece Erin who finished off the last 0.2 miles, much to his delight.

“It was great, because sometimes we have to focus on the people still with us,” he said.

Future marathon plans include getting a treadmill inside a hot air balloon, a train from London to Glasgow, and possibly even a flight from London to New York.

Caroline Blakely, CEO of Children With Leukaemia, said “Noel’s determination and commitment to raise funds in Ethan’s memory is remarkable.  

“Without such support we could not continue our vital work to help save young lives.”

Bliss Chief Executive Andy Cole said, “Noel’s dedication to his 223 challenge is inspirational and we are extremely grateful to him for all he’s done, not only raising funds but also helping to raise the profile of the issues facing the UK’s sickest babies.

“A total of 223 marathons is certainly a huge challenge and we look forward to seeing him through many more.”

While Noel enjoyed his day out in London, he expressed the hope that Manchester might soon host its’ own marathon.

He explained: “It is just one day of the year, and I would love Manchester to have its’ own Marathon. London puts on a fantastic event, and the crowds really get into it.”

His next marathon will be the Neolithic Marathon next Sunday, which will take him across the Salisbury Plain, finishing at Stonehenge.

You can find out more about Noel’s 223 challenge at his website http://223challenge.com/ and from there Bliss and Children With Leukaemia, his two supporting charities.