AN athlete is tackling a ‘Dragonathon’ challenge by visiting all 31 Taunton Deane Dragons in one day this Saturday (September 6).
Jim Plunkett-Cole, 45, who grew up on the Somerset Levels and is a former Wellington School student, is set to complete the ‘triathlon’ as part of a wider challenge to run 10k every day for 1,000 days.
He is inviting others to accompany him on parts of his 45-mile route (see panel, right), which will involve running the equivalent of a marathon.
He said: “Last year I ran a marathon round the Gromits of Bristol so, when I heard about the dragons, I wanted to do something similar.”
Jim’s running exploits have previously attracted plenty of local and national attention.
In 2013 he set himself the challenge of running 10k a day, a feat he achieved in style on New Year’s Eve with a 45.5mile ultra marathon around the Green Man Challenge route in Bristol. And, more often than not, he is accompanied by his best friend, a collie called Alfredo.
After completing his 2013 challenge, he continued running and about a month ago decided to increase the 10k challenge to 1,000 days.
Jim’s self-inflicted rules do not allow banking up of distance – each day has to include at least a 10k run, no matter what he does the day before or after. An average 10k takes about an hour.
Jim, of Kilmersdon, near Mells, has kept friends and social media followers up to date on his progress and the self-employed economist’s exploits have inspired others to set their own physical challenges.
“During the year people had seen that I wasn’t getting slower but had got faster and stronger – it surprised people as they thought I would get tired,” he said.
“I set up the 2014k x 365 Challenge as a Facebook group and there were about 60 people who started doing anything from a 1k walk to a 10k run every day.
“People like doing it because they feel part of a group – if it’s a stormy day, they at least know that others will be forcing themselves outside in the same weather.
“I’d love as many people as possible to come along on Saturday for the Dragonathon.”
On how he fits in all this exercise, Jim admits: “I’m a single fella with only a dog and two cats to look after at home. My daughter is at university and I have my own business.
“My nightmare scenario would be getting flu – I don’t like the thought of having to run when just moving a muscle while lying in bed is painful.”
In 2013, Jim raised a total of £21,000 for four charities.
Taunton Deane Mayor Dave Durdan, who is leading the Taunton Deane Dragon Trail project, said: “This is a remarkable challenge.
“We wish Jim all the best for the day and we’ll be there to cheer him on.”
For more details on Jim, or join his 2014 or 2015 challenges, click on www.facebook.com/10Kx1000.
n This week’s Dragon Trail photos are on page 24.