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7th Jul, 2022

Southam man to take on marathon in full Rugby kit in memory of pal's son

A FORMER former rugby player from Southam is renewing his attempt to smash a world record – by running the London Marathon in full rugby kit.

Duncan Nealon, who used to play for Claverdon RFC along with friend Rod Adlington, is determined to take on the challenge in memory of Rod’s son Barney who died in 2005 from meningitis, aged three.

The tot became a familiar figure at the club, running around with his brother Toby and dragging his blanket behind him.

When tragedy struck in 2005, everyone at the club was devastated, including Duncan.

Now Duncan is determined to celebrate Barney’s life by completing one of the most iconic races in the world dressed in rugby shorts, shirt, a scrum cap mouth guard and carrying a rugby ball. And all in less than three hours 14 minutes. Money raised from his world record attempt will go to national charity Meningitis Now, which has supported Rod and his family since Barney’s death.

He said: “Over the years Rod and his family have raised lots of money for Meningitis Now, and I really want to continue that legacy.

“I’m really hoping to beat the record of 3 hours 14 minutes for someone to complete the race in full rugby gear – which is currently held by an Australian.

“But if we raise a load of money and lots of awareness of the charity, and the symptoms of meningitis, and what people should look out for, it’s not the absolute end of the world.”

Duncan had previously trained for the 2020 race, and completed the Warwick Half Marathon in full kit, in one hour 25 minutes, before the London race was cancelled.

He added: “Training has been going well. It was tougher to start with as unlike the first time I trained for it, this time I had to shift some weight I’d mysteriously put on during lockdown, but thankfully that’s gone now!”

Meningitis Now’s Events fund-raising manager Kirsty Owen-Hayward said she was looking forward to welcoming Duncan across the finishing line at the end of the marathon: “We know what a moving occasion it will be for him as he celebrates Barney’s life with this amazing world record attempt.

“But whether he beats the record or not we’ll be there to support him every step of the way. And of course once the race is over and all the money has been collected and paid in, hopefully he will know that all the money raised will go towards a brilliant cause: raising awareness about meningitis, funding vital research, and helping people living with the impact of this awful disease.”

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