A RUNNER is taking on his first marathon to raise funds in memory of a close friend.

Sam James, 25, is running the Halstead Marathon on Sunday, May 12 to raise funds for St Helena Hospice.

The charity cared for his friend Ashley Jones, from Halstead, who died following a battle with cancer in 2018.

Sam described Ashley, who he met when volunteering for St John Ambulance in Halstead, as a “friend, teacher and mentor”.

Ashley spent the end of his life being cared for by the hospice.

Sam said: “When I visited him I was surprised how well taken care of he was.

“They rely on donations and I thought it’s time to give something back.”

Sam had never run before, so taking on a marathon was a huge challenge.

He has been training for seven months now with Halstead Road Runners.

Sam has been logging his progress on his Just Giving page.

When he started, he said: “I went for a run for 65 minutes today.

“That extra five minutes felt like five hours added on.

“I run alone and I hope that if I can keep myself mentally strong then the body will follow.”

“I hope I can break my mental limits before race day.”

Sam said he has built up his time little by little by following the London Marathon training scheme. “My latest run was for four hours,” he said.

“It was hard but I’ve built it up.

“You do feel it the next day but it does get better. I’d never run for longer than an hour before, and now I’m running for four hours straight.”

Sam hopes to raised £1,450 for the hospice.

To donate, visit justgiving.com/fundraising/sam-james18.