A MORAY teenager’s cancer battle has inspired her father to sign up for a gruelling 100-mile-a-day cycle charity challenge.
Russell Main (49) will have his daughter Abbie (14) constantly in his mind when he attempts to pedal all the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats in just 10 days.
The Elgin-based offshore worker is part of a team of five cyclists aiming to raise £20,000 for Sarcoma UK and Logan’s Fund, inspired by Abbie’s bravery through illness.
To sponsor the challenge, visit here.
Elgin Academy pupil Abbie was diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer in September 2013, and has been supported by both charities during her treatments.
To say thank you to the groups, Russell recruited a team to try and cycle the full length of the British mainland in a challenge which will test them to their very limits.
They will set off from Land’s End in Penzance next Thursday with the target of reaching Scotland’s most northerly land point on Saturday, June 3.
As well as the 1000 mile distance, Russell and his team will have to tackle 16,000 metres of climbing – the equivalent of 12 times up Ben Nevis.
“I’m sure the challenge will be tough going,” said Russell. “But I will have the constant reminder of Abbie’s three-and-a half year battle against cancer and how she has dealt with every hurdle with a smile.
“Her determination is a true inspiration to us all and I’m sure will help keep us motivated for the phenomenal challenge that lies ahead.”
Joining Russell on the incredible journey is RAF wing commander Dave Allen (50), who heads up the newly formed RAF Lossiemouth transition team preparing the Moray base for the arrival of the new Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft. The serviceman has lived in Elgin for 25 years and been friends with Russell for most of that time.
Also doing the cycle is former Elgin Academy pupil Graeme Coutts (45), Russell’s best pal who is now based in Lincoln, working as a physical training instructor in a prison.
Russell ran the London Marathon in 2011 and 2012 in aid of Clic Sargent, a charity he also supported when he teamed up with Graeme to do a previous Land’s End to John O’Groats cycle attempt in 2014 – one which was fraught with difficulties.
“I had to miss a day and a half due to a knee injury following a crash, so I feel the challenge is incomplete,” said Russell.
Graeme discovered a far greater problem when he became unwell on day two and was found to have heart problems, with a left ventricular failure bringing his challenge to an end. He was taken to hospital for surgery but has now made a full recovery.
“So we both appreciate the magnitude of the challenge we face, a few years older,” Russell said.
Graeme’s father, retired former Moray Council convenor Eddie (72) will support the cyclists as a support driver all the way along the route.
Completing the cycle team are Jon Hope, from Sutton-on-Trent, and Les Aylett, from Lincoln.
The Moray-based members will set off from Elgin on Tuesday to drive south and meet the rest of the team, ready for Thursday’s start.
Abbie’s cancer battle also inspired a record-breaking Burghead Boxing Day Swim event, where organiser Russell rallied a community effort to raise around £30,000 for cancer charities in the area.
This time he has two other good causes to back and has been amazed by the amount of money already pouring in as he closes in on his target.
“Logan’s Fund is a children’s cancer charity who will do whatever is possible to help and support families affected by childhood cancer,” said Russell. “They have been a fantastic source of support for my family during the last three years.”
The charity cycle will also raise money for Sarcoma UK, which raises awareness and gives support to patients like Abbie suffering from a cancer which develops in the muscle, bone, nerves, cartilage, tendons, blood vessels and the fatty and fibrous tissues of the body.
Russell said Kevin Bryan, owner of Global Barcode (Newark) sponsored the cycle kit for the event and gave the team his transit van including a donation for fuel.
He also thanked BP Clair Ridge Project, Aramark, St James Place Foundation, Nelson Bar (Sutton-on Trent), Enterprise Car Hire (Inverness), Cameron Clan Fochabers (Coffee Morning), Burghead Ladies (Coffee Morning), Diageo (Burghead / Roseisle), DLR Transport (Tuxford, Notts), Andy Woodward, Dave Allen’s brothers, and of course support driver Eddie Coutts for their help with the challenge.
For updates during the event follow the team's Facebook page.