Bruce Bynorth, a serving member of the Royal Army Physical Training Corps, is taking on the Virgin Money London Marathon bearing a 40kg Army backpack in memory of his friend and ex-Gloucester Regiment member, Peter Milner, and for Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.
Third time's a charm
It will be the third time big-hearted, broad-shouldered Bruce, 48, will have covered the 26.2 mile distance to mark the Covid-stricken London Marathon, helping to raise funds for Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.
And in a touching tribute to Peter – who was ex-Army and an Antarctic explorer often seen sporting a ruck sack – Bruce will complete the route bearing a standard Army issue weighted backpack.
“I met Pete at The Cheltenham Motor Club and over a pint we discovered we had both served in the Army,” shared Bruce. “He was ex-Gloucestershire Regiment and I was in the Parachute Regiment. We became firm friends.
“Pete was a keen mountaineer. He did a lot of walking with a ruck sack on his back, and we wild camped and walked in Dartmouth together. It's my tribute to him to complete the marathon wearing a backpack. I think he would be pleased to know what I’m doing in his memory and in support of the Sue Ryder hospice that cared for him. I know he and his family were so grateful for Sue Ryder's support.”
Taking on the marathon in lockdown
After Bruce’s first attempt of completing the London Marathon fell in April 2020 due to Covid-19, he marked the date with a lockdown challenge of rowing 26.2 miles on his rowing machine in his garden in Cheltenham, followed by 26 reps of 26 burpees.
And when the rearranged London Marathon run was cancelled again in October 2020, Bruce, undeterred, covered 26.2 mile distance along the Cotswold Way bearing a 25kg Army issue backpack.
Double the challenge
But with Bruce’s official London Marathon run looming, his challenge has almost doubled in size after the Army increased the weight of its standard issue Army backpack from 25kg to 40kg.
“I'm really looking forward to finally stepping foot in London, but carrying almost half my own body weight around the route is really going to challenge me physically,” he said. “I am hoping the crowd will get behind us to keep us going and the atmosphere will help push me on.
“It will be a very different experience to my back garden rowing and Cotswold Way virtual London Marathon challenges, which I faced on my own.”
“When I ran the Cotswold Way, it was an amazing feeling just to have a few people cheering me on or have a car beep their horn as they passed me in my Army gear and Sue Ryder running top. Going to an event with thousands of people is going to be pretty special.”
Previously heading up the gymnasium and physical development for HQ ARCC at NATO HQ based at Innsworth, and now based at Tidworth Garrison, near Swindon, Bruce is no stranger to demanding physical challenges.
“I have done some training with the new weight of 40kg and it is a painful weight to carry, let alone cover 26.2 miles with. I will need to make sure I get my straps and the padding right.”
“The support and care Pete received in his final days were unbelievable”
Cheering Bruce on from the side lines will be his partner, Julie Colbourne, who Bruce is due to marry the month after the London Marathon. As part of their wedding celebrations the big-hearted couple have asked guests to donate towards Bruce’s London Marathon challenge instead of giving gifts.
“I really hope we can raise more funds for Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice,” said Bruce. “I had driven past the hospice for years and I didn't have a clue what went on up there. But when I visited Peter there after he was admitted in 2019 I saw what goes on and the amazing facilities. The support and care Pete received in his final days were unbelievable.
“The pandemic has blown a huge hole in Sue Ryder’s finances, so I hope by completing my first 'official' marathon – third time lucky – I can donate some vital funds so they can continue to be there for all the families that need them.”
Help Bruce reach his target and support Sue Ryder
Bruce hopes to raise £8,000 for Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, and has so far raised £4,265. With your support, Bruce can reach his target and Sue Ryder can continue to provide our expert care to patients and their families, even through the toughest times.
TCS London Marathon 2022
If Bruce's story and his amazing dedication have inspired you to get your running shoes on for Sue Ryder, you can find out more information about next year's London Marathon and apply for your place as part of Team Incredible.