It’s one of the toughest new fitness feats around – the 4x4x48 Challenge will be nothing short of ‘absolute torture’, according to Richard Dawson, who is taking on this amazing two-day endurance test to help refugees and asylum seekers in Tyne and Wear.

The 4x4x48, starting on March 4, will see Richard run 48 miles (almost the distance of two marathons) over the space of 48 hours and you can sponsor him here.  He’ll be doing four miles every four hours and attempting to get some brief shut-eye in between each run. And he’s in no doubt about how hard it’s going to be.

“It will take me to my physical and psychological limits. I will have to contend with sleep deprivation, extreme fatigue and probably many other hurdles that I haven’t even contemplated.

The 4x4x48 Challenge is the brainchild of former US Navy SEAL and endurance athlete David Goggins who set it up in 2020. The idea is that everyone taking part around the world runs it at the same time and raises money for their chosen charity.

Richard, who’s 27 and works for the business support organisation UMi in Seaham, will embark on his first run at 8pm on Friday March 4; then at midnight; then again at 4am on Saturday 5. He’ll continue to repeat each four-mile run every four hours, until he’s completed all 12 runs and will hopefully be back home relaxing in front of the telly by around 8.30pm on the evening of Sunday 6.

“The hardest part I’m sure will be that second 4am run on the Sunday morning when I’ll already have done 32 miles and I’ll know I still have 16 hours of running left to do.

It’s just the sheer length of time you’ve got to keep yourself mobile for and I don’t sleep particularly well if I know I have to be up for something. I can be quite grumpy when I haven’t had my eight hours and this is probably going to be pretty much two days without sleep!”

Richard, who got married to his wife Stephanie earlier in February, is hoping he’ll get a helping hand with the alarm calls though.

“Stephanie’s been super supportive and I’m hoping she’s going to kick us out of bed for the early morning ones!”

Staying focused

To help him stay focused, Richard has decided not to vary his route but stick to the same run each time – leaving his flat in Roker, cutting up the back of Roker Park, heading out along the sea front towards Whitburn, looping round Latimer’s Seafood and then back home along the coast.

“I know that’s four miles door to door and whilst I’ve heard other people say they’ve done different routes, I just want to be on auto pilot and don’t want to confuse myself.”

Diet will be key and Richard intends to carb-up for the challenge ahead. But above all, what will keep him going is the cause he’s raising money for and the sponsors who are supporting him.

“Action Foundation tries to make life a little bit easier for refugees and asylum seekers and it’s a fantastic cause. I think the whole way we treat people who are coming to this country from war zones is pretty poor and the media narrative can have quite a demonising and dehumanising effect.”

“These people are just like us and they would not be coming here unless it was absolutely necessary and anything that is going to help make things that little bit easier to help them integrate and assimilate with life in the UK is absolutely brilliant. There need to be more charities like Action Foundation!”

Supporters have already given more than £300 on Richard’s Golden Giving fundraising page but he would love to get more sponsorship for his challenge.

“It’s like two marathons in two days and people’s generosity is reflective of how difficult it is going to be. It’s up to about £300 now and I’ll be trying to raise more in the run up to March 4. When I set myself to achieve something I have to see it through, so I am hoping that that will come through and of course the donations that people have given us will be in the forefront of my mind to help me.”