It’s just too much of a marathon for all but the athletic in Sheffield

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The mere thought of pounding through 26.2 miles - or 42,195 metres - is too much for most people, let alone getting stuck into vital months of training and then the gruelling event itself.

But the charity that supports Sheffield Children’s Hospital has come up with a marathon that everyone can do - whether they are young or old, fit, unfit or a veritable couch potato…

Team Theo’s Virtual Marathon gives every entrant the entire month of August to complete their marathon. They can clock up the miles a little bit each day by walking the dog or skipping the bus to work. Alternatively they can get active over their weekends to rack up their tally.

And the added beauty of the Virtual Marathon is that it isn’t only steps and strides that count… You can swim it or cycle it too.

“Pedometers, fitness bands and smart phone apps at the ready… Every step or stroke you record towards your target for our Virtual Marathon will raise money for a cause which will help thousands of children for years to come,” said Caitlin Hallatt, community fundraiser at The Children’s Hospital Charity.

“We want to raise £30,000 towards the cost of a life-changing piece of equipment which will enable Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s world-renowned chemical laboratory to diagnose vitamin D deficiencies.”

The £200,000 machine, called a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometer, pinpoints deficiencies in the vitamin now recognised as vital to health.

A lack of vitamin D can cause soft bones in children, or rickets, which undiagnosed can lead to lifelong disability and musculoskeletal problems.

Science has recently also discovered that a deficiency can lead to dermatological conditions, mental health problems, allergies, gastro health issues and cardiac disorders.

The machine will mean GPs can send children with symptoms such as constant tiredness, skin complaints, bone pain and muscle weakness for vitamin D analysis and TCHC hope its raft of activity-based fundraising challenges during 2017 will raise the £200,000 needed.

The charity wants 500 people to sign-up to this month’s Virtual Marathon and says it is a fifth of the way to its target already.

“Our wonderful supporters are finding fun ways of completing their personal marathons,” said Caitlin. “They are out there, ensuring their August is crammed with activities which will count towards their marathon mileage total.

“We’ve got families planning weekend walks, workers challenging each other to see who can record the most steps a day on their FitBits, adventurous types planning to stage backwards triathlons - and we know of some folk planning sponsored pub crawls.

“They are all raising money for us, but at the same time they are getting fitter. It’s a win-win.”

Register at www.teamtheovirtual.com to receive ideas and support throughout Virtual Marathon month and find out how to record your marathon steps, swimming sessions and cycle rides. There’s a £15 registration fee and everyone who achieves their 26.2 miles and a minimum fundraising target of £25 will receive a medal.