Taking endurance to another level in fundraising bid

READY TO RUN CPO Ian Fleming is doing the Great South Run in a diving suit. Picture: Malcolm Wells (123502-5491)
READY TO RUN CPO Ian Fleming is doing the Great South Run in a diving suit. Picture: Malcolm Wells (123502-5491)
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Ken Ellcome with Jean and Allan Thompson. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

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IT’S a gruelling feat at the best of times – without donning a 200lb diving suit before attempting to race 10 miles.

But for Chief Petty Officer Ian Fleming who is doing just that, it’s worth it.

The 48-year-old, who got permission to start the Bupa Great South Run yesterday, is hoping to cross the finish line with 25,000 other participants tomorrow.

And he plans to raise £5,000 for BLESMA, the British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association, in the process.

Ian is based at Horsea Island on the bomb disposal team in Southern Diving Unit 2 – and has served 28 years in the Royal Navy.

He said: ‘There are a lot of people who are worse off than I am.

‘I always feel I should do my bit.’

Ian started his gruelling challenge at 9am yesterday, and planned to complete five miles on Friday and four today before being joined by fellow servicemen who are also runnning for the final mile tomorrow to cross the finish line.

Ian said: ‘I wanted to get the lads involved on the team so we are wearing diving equipment through the ages.’

He added: ‘It’s been hard, obviously the weight of it – it’s 200lb – but the majority of that is on the upper body.

‘It’s quite hard on the shoulders, neck and back.

‘The boots are 22lb each – it’s not easy.

‘There’s no point in making it easy.’

Double gold medal winner Dame Kelly Holmes is to start the 23rd 10-mile Great South Run tomorrow.

Among the people taking part are 2006 winner and 2012 European 10,000m silver medallist Jo Pavey and London 2012 Olympic silver medallist Abel Kirui.

London 2012 Olympics 10,000m bronze medallist Tariku Bekele is also competing in the race along with thousands of other runners – many of whom are raising cash for charity.

The race will be broadcast live and shown in almost 100 countries.

Meanwhile an extra 4,000 participants made up of families and less experienced runners were to take their place on the start line today for the junior, mini and 5km events.

It is estimated that £3m will be raised for more than 100 different charities from the events – which would smash last year’s £2.5m total.

Anyone who would like to sponsor Ian Fleming is asked to visit justgiving.com/chiefdiver.

Bucket collections are also taking place.