Head off to New York

A HEADTEACHER is going to travel 3,500 miles to take part in the world s biggest marathon. Jonathan Block, 52, of the Thomas Alleyne School in Stevenage will be taking part in the gruelling challenge in November in aid of The Mental Health Foundation. Las

A HEADTEACHER is going to travel 3,500 miles to take part in the world's biggest marathon.

Jonathan Block, 52, of the Thomas Alleyne School in Stevenage will be taking part in the gruelling challenge in November in aid of The Mental Health Foundation.

Last October he raised £1,500 for the charity by completing the Great North Run but this year he plans to raise double the amount with the help of a friend who will be accompanying him on the run.

The event in New York will be the first marathon he has taken part in for 25 years but he is running around 35 miles a week in preparation which involves getting up at 5am before getting to school for 7am.

He said: "I used to run all the time. I gave up smoking in 1982 and then started training for the London Marathon

"But this time I'm two stone heavier and 25 years older.

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"However, the training is going well and I'm confident I will finish it in order to support people with mental health problems.

"I support this charity because I helped a young person with mental health issues and cannot believe the conditions, facilities and resources available in this country for people with mental health problems. We must always remember that one in four of us will have some kind of a mental health illness during our lifetime. This can range from a simple depression through to major psychotic or schizophrenic type illnesses; we are all very close, at any time, to becoming unwell in these areas."

Pupils at Thomas Alleyne will be taking part in a non uniform day to help Mr Block boost his funds and he is going to donate a day's salary to the charity when he takes a day off to compete in the event.

If anyone would like to sponsor Mr Block or take part in training sessions with him, call him at the school on 01438 344344 or visit www.bmycharity.com/v2/newyork08

Alternatively, for more information about the marathon visit www.nycmarathon.org

FACT FILE

o The New York marathon began in 1970 with 127 runners paying the $1 (50p) entrance fee

o In 2006 nearly 38,000 people crossed the finish line, making it the largest marathon of all time. In the same year more than 93,000 people worldwide applied to run

o In 2000 it added an official wheelchair division to the marathon and now the marathon has grown to become one of the most competitive wheelchair marathons anywhere in the world, with more than 200 wheelchair and handcycle athletes

o In 1978 Norwegian Grete Waitz set a women's marathon world record, finishing in 2:32:30

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