IN just a matter of months, a Grappenhall resident went from being an amateur runner to completing an ultramarathon.

James Gleave had barely run 10k just over a year ago, but this month he manged to complete an eight-hour gruelling challenge which saw him run as many 5km loops as possible before time ran out.

The 26-year-old used the challenge as a great opportunity to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK, in honour of his beloved uncle who lost his battle to the disease during the pandemic.

James said The Ultra Lopp 8, located in Heaton Park in Manchester, was his first ever ultramarathon.

Warrington Guardian: James's friends and family came to the event to support him through the eight hour challengeJames's friends and family came to the event to support him through the eight hour challenge (Image: Supplied)

“15 months ago, I got the chance to sign up for a challenge with work to go to the Nubian Desert. We ran and cycled across it,” he explained.

“There was a marathon and two half marathons to complete. Prior to that, running had not been my sport particularly.”

The engineer said participating in desert marathons sparked his enthusiasm for competing in further physical challenges.

He managed to complete the ultramarathon in Manchester with the support of friends and family, who joined him for various stretches of the eight hours.

“I wanted to raise some money for a charity that is close to my heart while I did it,” he continued.

Warrington Guardian: The ultra marathon was held at Heaton Park in Manchester The ultra marathon was held at Heaton Park in Manchester (Image: Supplied)

James ran in honour of his uncle, John Noble, who lost his battle to cancer in 2020.

“It was roughly a year from finding out. He had a couple of rounds of chemo, but by the time they found it, it had already spread,” James said.

“He had to have emergency surgery, but it had already spread to his liver.”

John was only 48 when he died and was a cherished member of the family, James said, which is why he wants to raise as much money as possible for the charity who helped him.

“He was someone who I always knew I could go to and he was a great person to go to for advice and was great fun,” he commented.

“He was one of those special people that we all have in our lives who we know will always be there for us.

“He left a really huge hole in our lives.”

James was meant to be joined by a work colleague to complete the ultramarathon but they could not make it last minute, which meant he had to tackle the challenge alone.

“My wife was there with me all the way through, and other friends and family came throughout the day,” he added.

“One of my colleagues from work came down and ran the last two laps with me.”

James highlighted what drives him to continue entering these courageous challenges, saying: “I think the big thing is the idea of pushing my limits.

“As soon as I did it on Saturday, I was looking for bigger and more challenging things for the future.

“It is a great thing for processing things and emotions. Having the goal and structured plan.”

A GoFundMe page was set up prior to the event, with initial hopes of raising £500 in funding for the charity, but so far donations have more than doubled this total at £1,360.

The wife and two children of James’ uncle were among the supporters that came to watch him run across the finish line.

“I had a picture of my uncle, auntie and their two children in my pocket for the whole run,” he said.

“It was quite emotional at the finish line. We all hugged. I hope he would be proud of me.”

The funding page is still open so to donate, and if you would like to do so, visit