Graham ready to lead the way in marathon effort by Poppies youngsters

Players and coaches from Kettering Town's academy will be taking to the streets on Sunday to raise money for mental health charities

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 12:47 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st April 2021, 12:48 pm
Former Poppies captain Luke Graham will be running a marathon this weekend. Picture by Peter Short

Youngsters and coaches from Kettering Town’s academy set up will be hitting the streets for the final time in the name of charity this weekend.

Twelve weeks of training will come to fruition for members of the club’ education system, academy and community teams as they set out on various running challenges on Sunday.

Academy director and former Poppies captain Luke Graham - who was forced to retire from playing during last season - will be leading the way when he runs a marathon while first-team players Gary Stohrer, Ben Milnes and Connor Kennedy will be covering nearly nine miles each to complete the same distance.

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And players and coaches from the youth system as well as some fans will be doing likewise in various teams.

The idea was introduced during the latest national lockdown to give players a chance to focus on improving fitness while the club felt the exercise and social interaction would provide benefits to the mental health of those taking part.

A GoFundMe page was launched and over £3,600 has been raised with that money will go towards funding projects to improve mental health for young people in Kettering.

Graham feels ready for his 26.2-mile challenge on Sunday and he has been delighted by the response from the club’s future stars.

“The main thing was to have a focus during that latest lockdown,” Graham said.

“I knew everyone would struggle a bit more this time, especially with the weather and time of year.

“Just to see so many people of all ages taking part and getting out in some horrendous conditions like wind and snow has given a lot of people a lift.

“I never thought we would raise this much and to get near to £4,000 or over that mark which we could potentially do is just brilliant for everyone involved.

“Every time we have increased the target it has given everyone extra motivation and it will all go to a great cause.

“It’s been great, it’s been an excellent 12 weeks and I will be quite sad when it ends.

“Hopefully, we will do more things in the future and other initiatives to make sure we all stick together as a club and as a community.”

And, as far as his own run is concerned, Graham added: “I feel I have prepared as much as I can.

“I have trained up to 20 miles and it’s tough. I have got newfound respect and admiration for those who are keen runners and get out and do marathons.

“I never went further than 5k or 10k in the last lockdown so it’s been well above anything I have done before. It’s been a good test of the mind.

“I feel ready and I would like to do it in under four hours and get as close to three-and-a-half as I can.”

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