Chris Rossi, 40, had signed up to do his first ever marathon in Stirling and had trained hard for the event.
So when it was postponed due to “uncertainties” over coronavirus, the St Joseph’s College physics teacher decided to go ahead anyway and tackle the 26 mile distance around Dumfries.
His challenging route will circumnavigate the town across some “gruelling hills”, including the Maidenbaur path. It crosses the Nith river numerous times, before culminating at Dock Park. He hopes to complete it in about four and a half hours,
And it is his fundraising for the Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), the world’s largest humanitarian airline, that is spurring him on.
Chris has a keen interest in aviation, initially training in mechanical engineering with aeronautics. After graduating in 2008 he undertook a three-week voluntary placement at MAF’s airbase in Dodoma, Tanzania, an experience he describes as “truly eye opening.”
Chris’s team spent two weeks clearing an airstrip at rural Kilamantide. The area was covered with bushes and undergrowth, some with three-inch spikes, but they helped create a safe place for MAF aircraft to land.
He recalls: “A real highlight was seeing an MAF plane land for the first time at that tiny place – 300 miles from the nearest hospital. That plane did a medical emergency flight to a hospital less-equipped than the science labs I teach in.
“Knowing that the locals can now have access to medical care is incredible. I want to run this marathon to keep MAF planes flying in remote places.”
His marathon efforts started last year when he got back into running during the pandemic with his seven-year-old son Matthew. Chris said: “We started running together and both loved it – so I decided to keep going.
“I’ve come to enjoy the peace, quiet and reflection I get on my long Monday evening runs.
“This has been a tough season for everyone and running has really helped keep me mentally strong.”
“I’ve always wanted to do something memorable in my 40th year, so I thought ‘Why not a marathon for MAF?’”
He is on track to raise over £200 and said: “If I raise a few hundred pounds that would be incredible.”
“I’m super proud of Matthew, and grateful to my friends and family who have been so supportive. Some of them are joining me for parts of the route – so it will be a really memorable day.
“Knowing that it’s all for a great cause has kept me going and any donations will help deliver vital cargo to help those living in real isolation.”
* To support Chris go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Chris-Rossi1