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Andy Gore

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I am filled with admiration for anyone who can run more than a mile without getting out of breath so I was excited to meet a man who raises money for charity by taking part in marathons and triathlons and actually enjoys it.

Andy Gore was at Bournside School 25 years ago when he started running with Cheltenham Harriers. His best friend, Chris Lane, introduced him to running and his obsession took off from there. He has run the London Marathon seven times altogether so far – 2011 will make it eight. His best time so far is 2 hours 30 minutes and 51 seconds in 2003. In 2010 he completed it in 2 hours 41 minutes and 38 seconds.

When he left school he worked for Eagle Star and has been in Insurance and Financial Services ever since. But he prefers to talk about his family, his running and the charity he is so passionate about.

Andy is 41 and married to Vanessa. They live in Andoversford. 1998 was the year they were married he tells me and confesses that he ran the Great North Run the day after coming 60th in 1 hour 11 minutes 18 seconds. They have one daughter Phoebe, who is 12 years old and goes to Cotswold School. She hasn’t followed her dad into running yet, or her mum into netball, but she is very keen on hockey and recently joined Sherborne Hockey Club.

In 2007,Andy’s good friend and neighbour Lindsay Brown, talked him into taking part in the South African Iron Man Challenge. For Andy, the Iron Man was a big personal challenge. It includes a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle and a marathon run straight afterwards.

He completed it in 11 hours 31 minutes and 58 seconds, but admits it was one of the most extreme things he has ever done.

In 2010 he took part in the London Triathlon with colleagues from National Grid, Hinckley, Leicestershire, where he was working at the time. Each member of the team completed the 1500 metre swim in London Docks, 25 mile cycle and 10k run raising almost £10,000 for Leicestershire charity LOROS, the chosen corporate charity of National Grid. Andy is still a member of Hinckley Running Club in Leicestershire and also Chorley Harriers, in Lancashire, as well as Cheltenham Harriers in Gloucestershire.

Andy tries to train every day, aiming to run 40 – 50 miles a week, though this increases before a big race and has to include swimming and cycling if he’s training for a triathlon. This is in addition to a full day’s work and travelling to Bristol where he currently works. Whilst at National Grid he introduced running at lunchtime to other work colleagues and is hoping to do the same in Bristol.

Andy was very keen to tell me about his chosen charity DebRA and the reason he chose it. A few years ago he watched a programme on Channel 4 called The Boy Whose Skin Fell Off, a frank and moving film about Jonny Kennedy, an extraordinary man with a terrible condition called Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB) - which means his skin literally fell off at the slightest touch. Unfortunately Jonny died at the age of 36 and even planned his own funeral. Many sufferers however don’t survive that long and some with the most severe form of the illness die in infancy. Andy was so moved by the programme and Jonny’s story that he decided to make DebRA his chosen charity.

DebRA is the national charity working on behalf of people in the UK with this genetic skin blistering condition. It’s still a little known charity though it recently benefited from the BBC Lifeline Appeal and has been appointed one of the Official Charities for an exciting new concept called Gold Challenge launched on 24 November 2010 which will capture the growing excitement surrounding the 2012 Olympics (see the website at:www.debra.org.uk/ for details).

EB is likely to affect 1 in 17,000 live births and it is estimated that there are currently 5,000 people with the condition in the UK. Because EB is an inherited condition (it cannot be caught), which is passed on genetically from parents to children, first time parents often do not know that they are carriers and will have no prior warning that the child will be affected, until birth.

The condition has a number of distinct forms. At its mildest, the blistering is confined to the hands and feet making holding things and walking extremely painful. In more severe forms all the body is affected and the wounds heal very slowly, giving rise to scarring, physical deformity and significant disability. Whilst considerable progress has been made in recent years in understanding EB and identifying the genes that cause the condition, there is as yet no effective treatment or a cure.

Andy has run the London Marathon three times for DebRA and this year alone raised £1,300 for the charity. Next year he will run the London Marathon again for DebRA and try to raise even more money.

If anyone is interested in joining Andy in raising money for DebRA by running in next year’s London Marathon they should contact andrew.colville@debra.org.uk as charities have many bond places and you can run for them and pledge to raise a certain amount of money.