Personal trainer Graeme Hilditch ( is helping the Countryside Alliance Foundation’s Virgin Money London Marathon team ensure they are in top condition for the big day.

Between now and the marathon on 24 April our eight brave runners will benefit from a weekly training email from Graeme, leading them through their preparations, from running kit and heart-rate monitors – to runs and tapering.

Two of our team who have really thrown themselves into getting ready for the race and fundraising are Mark Simpson and Penny Middleton Burn.

mark trainingMark said: “ I started off in plus fours and waking boots in early November just walking and then jogging  100m and walking again. Then after a couple of weeks decided I needed some running kit and went shopping.

“I ran a total of 27 miles last week as well as two gym sessions so I feel I’m well on the way. I have entered the Weymouth half marathon on 20 March as good practise for London.

“On the fundraising side, I have hosted four shoot dinners and have already sent £450 to the Foundation and have extracted pledges from all of varying amounts who will pay up when I complete the 26.2 miles!

“In early January I was invited to shoot in Norfolk who had taken a day at Rushford Hall. Over a good dinner I enquired where the shoot was in relation to my host’s house which resulted in a wager of sorts to run to the shoot. Despite getting a bit lost and turning a five-mile run into a seven-mile run I raised £110.”

penny trainingAnd Penny said: “I’ve been training four times a week… personal training and boot camp which I find really important for core strength and general fitness, which really helps with my longer runs. I do one shorter run and then my long run at the weekend and I’m up to 10 miles now. I’m really enjoying the training with my goal in sight! It really helps me to focus on the charity aspect when I’m having a tough run.

“As for my fundraising, I own a dining pub and we run a very popular quiz every month. The next few months will be run for the Countryside Alliance Foundation – which should give my fund a good boost!”

If you’d like to sponsor any of the team, please click here