Local dog-lovers plan their own marathon to raise money for their favourite canine charity

26th August 2021

Two dog-loving local businessmen are planning to design and complete their very own marathon route to raise money for their favourite canine charity.

Tony Dent, from Ecclesall, Sheffield, and Paul Gosney, who lives in Chesterfield, are taking part in the Virtual London Marathon on Sunday October 3 on behalf of national charity Support Dogs, whose training centre is in Brightside.

Tony, a partner at B&B Vehicle Contracts, a vehicle leasing specialist in Chesterfield, and Paul, business development manager at City Taxis, are old friends who share a common love of dogs.

The pair, neither of whom have run a marathon before, are currently plotting a 26.2 mile marathon route starting at Dronfield Woodhouse and finishing at Support Dogs via various parts of Sheffield – hopefully around six hours later.

They plan to post staging posts online to encourage supporters to cheer them on at various points along the way, snaking through the city and avoiding as many hills as possible! Support will be provided by their friend Jim as pacemaker on his electric trike, Spike le Trike, and Tony’s wife Katey in a back-up van.

“We both love dogs, and Support Dogs do amazing work,” says Tony, whose company has made Support Dogs their charity of the year.

“I’ve known about their work and supported them for many years. I was recently watching one of their videos about a young girl whose life was turned round by her assistance dog, and every time I watch it, I cry!  It’s heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time.

“It gives someone a new lease of life which you would not expect from an animal. The sheer joy that a dog brings to people’s lives and what these dogs do is incredible. They give people who have disabilities such freedom and a new lease of life, and that’s what’s it’s all about for me.”

Tony and Paul are now hard at work in the gym and pounding the streets in preparation for the event, in which participants can choose their own marathon-length route.

Toy had heart surgery two years ago, so the Virtual London Marathon is a big challenge. Both men, who have set themselves a fundraising target of £3,000 are planning a practice half marathon route in September to test their fitness.

“When people hear that we’re doing a ‘virtual’ marathon they seem to think that it’s online and we’re not actually running 26.2 miles – but believe me we are!” says Paul.

Support Dogs trains assistance dogs for children and adults with autism, epilepsy and physical disability, enabling them to lead safer, more independent lives. It receives no government funding, and for every dog it trains it receives more than 50 requests for help.

If you would like to sponsor Tony and Paul go to Virgin Money Giving | It's A Marathon Not A Snickers.

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