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Two friends plan 285km charity ‘shuffle’ from Portugal to Gibraltar

Pic by Eyleen Gomez

Friends Darren Boyd and Sean Calderon aim to run/walk from Portugal to Gibraltar next May to raise funds for Cancer Relief Gibraltar, Head Up - a mental health charity for the Armed Forces - and the Army Benevolent Fund.
The 285km challenge is called Step By Step.

Mr Calderon, 22, choose Cancer Relief Gibraltar in honour of his mother’s two parents who passed away from cancer.

His grandmother passed away with breast cancer in her 50s and his grandfather with lung cancer when he was in his 70s.

“I've always wanted to do something for them. I got my arm tattooed for them but I wanted to do something a bit more meaningful,” said Mr Calderon.

Mr Boyd, 22, selected Head Up for two reasons, to honour his friends Alistair McLeish and Nathan Worner.

“I want to raise more awareness for mental health, especially within the military because I served with two guys, Alistair McLeish and Nathan Worner, that sadly took their own life not too long ago,” he told the Chronicle.
“And that was because [soldiers] feel like they can't speak to anyone within the military… you don't show emotion, you don't express it and people don't realise that's not actually how it is.”

Mr Boyd also picked the charity the Army Benevolent Fund in memory of his brother Matthew, a private who at the age of 20 was murdered in Brecon in 2016.

The charity helped his family deal with various arrangements, such as the funeral, and they looked out for Mr Boyd when he enlisted in the army.

His mother told the Chronicle: “They are two young men who are very strong in the face of great loss and we are all so proud of them.”

The shuffle, where the duo will walk and run depending on the terrain or fatigue, starts at the bridge on the border of Portugal. Parents will drop them off there with only the essentials, such as a hydration vest with water, snacks, salt tablets, special socks to prevent cramps and hiking poles.

Sticking to the ‘B’ roads, they will traverse across sand, which is hard on legs and runs the risk of rolling ankles, scale up and over mountains adding to the elevation they will need to do, go through forests with their potential trip hazards, and trail roads.

They aim to complete the 285km distance by walking or running for 12 to 13 hours a day covering on average at least 70km a day.

Neither have undertaken a challenge like this before. Mr Boyd completed a distance of 100km in one day when in the army and now trains MMA and Muay Thai kickboxing, while Mr Calderon has been a footballer since he was a young child and trains regularly.

In addition to this training, they are planning various other training sessions that include the beach route to Torreguadiaro or on the mountain in La Linea, Sierra Carbonera, all while carrying extra weight on their back.
They also aim to undertake a 24-hours endurance walk in Gibraltar in February, both to raise awareness of their May challenge and to raise funds for it. Everyone is welcome to join them during this challenge, the men said, and more details will be provided in the coming months.

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