Published: 06:00, 14 January 2021
A Kent footballer who has never run a marathon before in his life is aiming to complete 496 miles in 31 days this month.
Kieron McCann is raising funds for the Darel Bryan Foundation in support of Brain Tumour Research.
McCann, from Chatham, plays for Cray Valley in the Isthmian League after leaving Folkestone following three seasons at Cheriton Road last year.
The challenge involves him running an additional mile each day this month, meaning having run one mile on January 1, he will run 15 miles on January 15, 20 miles on January 20 - and 31 miles on January 31.
He’ll be joined by his father on that final run - and says the challenge will be both mental and physical.
“I wanted to do something different and really test myself mentally and physically,” said McCann.
“I know aches and pains are going to come but if I can push through that then I know I can do it. I expect that so, as long as I don’t pull or break anything, I’m confident I will complete it.”
The 28-year-old is running in memory of his former next-door neighbour at the family home in Catford.
He’s already more than doubled the initial £1,000 target.
“Darel was a next-door neighbour where I grew up for nearly 25 years. He went to work and had a seizure in 2014. Darel battled it for 15 months and lost his life in 2016.
“I’m raising awareness and raising money in his memory. More children and adults under-40 die from brain tumours than any other cancer but research into it only gets one per cent of the funding for all cancers.”
It’s certainly going to be a tough challenge, with McCann admitting he has never run a marathon before - he will attempt to run five in as many days at the end of this month.
“I’m not regretting it,” said McCann. “It will start to take its toll on my legs.
“I’ve never run anything over 10 miles before so it will be a big shock. I’ll have some ice baths and do the best I can every day to get my body to recover.
“I’ve had great support so far, people have joined me out on a run – albeit from a social distance – although I’m not sure there will be too many of them on the latter stages!
“I don’t think about the finish line, I just look at my watch every now and then to see where I’m at.
“My dad is a long-distance runner and he’ll be with me for the last run - it’s something to tell the grandchildren!”
McCann is able to take up the challenge after the Isthmian League season was put on hold due to Covid-19.
He’s balancing the challenge with his day job as a railway track engineer but at least he doesn’t have the added burden of football matches.
“I’ve always played football for the last 13 years or so,” he said. “So Christmas and New Year was really weird without a game on Boxing Day.
“With football being cancelled at the moment it has allowed me to do the challenge now.
“I joined Cray Valley at the start of the season, all my friends and family are based in south London so it’s closer to them.
“I’ve been managed by Kevin Watson before and I like the way he works and goes about things.”
McCann was full of praise for former club Folkestone, and manager Neil Cugley.
He was part of a successful Invicta team under Cugley, who were regularly challenging at the right end of the Isthmian Premier.
“I enjoyed my time at Folkestone and Neil and his assistant Roland Edge are both lovely guys,” said McCann.
“The boys were really nice as well and I still keep in touch with them.
“We were chasing the play-offs or promotion every year I was there. We were top for a long time last season and then we went into lockdown and it was declared null and void.
“We were doing well and the thing with Folkestone was that we always believed we would do well. Even if we were 2-0 down in games, we had that belief that we’d come back to win – it’s a really weird quality.”
The current campaign looks set to be declared null and void in the weeks ahead, and McCann is struggling to see any other outcome.
“If I’m honest then I can’t see it coming back this season,” he added. “Hopefully it does but I really can’t see how it’s possible.
“I’ll have a couple of weeks off after this challenge but then I’ll stay fit just in case it does come back though!”
You can donate to Kieron’s challenge by visiting: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kieron-mccann11