STALYBRIDGE Celtic Juniors’ coach Liam Whitehead is to run an ultra-marathon to raise funds for the club’s defibrillator fund.
Liam is a well-known face at Juniors, having coached at the soccer school on a Saturday morning for more than 10 years, coaching the pan-disability team, and he has worked with hundreds of players across several teams during his time at the club.
When he is not at football training, he is most likely running up and down the hills around Tameside and Glossop.
He will be running the Bullock Smithy, a 56-mile ultra-marathon starting at midday on Saturday, September 4.
The race is a circular route starting and finishing in Hazel Grove which takes in some of the Peak District’s most stunning and challenging, landscapes including Edale, Castleton, Millers Dale and Macclesfield Forest.
Liam, though a keen runner, has never taken on a challenge this big.
He said: “I started with the Stamford Park ParkRun on a Saturday morning before soccer school in 2015 to get fitter and lose some weight.
“Since then, I’ve done more and more running over longer distances and harder terrain. I love getting out onto the moors around Stalybridge and Saddleworth, seeing and hearing the changing wildlife and surroundings in all four seasons.
“I’ve never raced more than a marathon distance so the 56 miles will be a real challenge, the Bullock Smithy route is a real mix of rough ground, trails and tracks with plenty of hill climbing as well.
“Juniors is a club I’ve been a part of for a long time and the friends I’ve met there have helped me through some tough times. The defib fund is a really important cause, brought to a head after what happened to Christian Eriksen at the Euros.”
It is the club’s goal that every one of its 28 teams has access to a defibrillator on matchdays and at training. Once teams move from mini soccer at centred venues to youth football, they play home and away games on grass pitches. Most of these council owned grass pitches have no onsite defibrillator.
The club want to raise enough money so that they can buy defibrillators for every one of its teams playing at these venues. The defibs will stay with each team’s coach and so will be available pitch side home and away, and at training.
Each defibrillator costs £1,200 so it will be a huge challenge to raise enough to buy devices for all the club’s youth teams. If you would like to donate or find out more about the club, visit stalybridgecelticjuniors.com