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Performance coach completes barefoot 40km trek for British Red Cross

9 May 2024

Club News

Performance coach completes barefoot 40km trek for British Red Cross

9 May 2024

Cambridge United First Team Physical Performance coach, Mark Laws, recently completed the challenge of a lifetime, walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks barefoot in aid of the EFL’s official charity partner, British Red Cross...

Mark, who has over 20 years experience in the health and fitness industries, has worked with the U's for one year in his role as Physical Performance Coach, as well as writing courses for Future Fit Training and consulting for Optimum Medical.

The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge sees participants embark on a 24.5-mile round-trip with an 1,585m ascent across the peaks of Pen-y-Ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, with the aim of completing it in under 12 hours.

If you would like to donate to Mark's fundraising efforts, please click here.

Speaking about how he got involved, Mark said, “Optimum Medical were getting a team together to do the Yorkshire Three Peaks and asked if I’d be interested. I was aware of the League’s partnership with British Red Cross and so for me, they were the perfect organisation to support and so I took on the challenge.”

Through the EFL’s partnership, Cambridge United has been working with British Red Cross to deliver ‘Club Connect’ events designed to support those living in the local area facing loneliness and isolation.

  • Why did you decide to do the challenge barefoot?

"This is the third charity challenge I’ve tasked myself with in recent years and I knew it would be a push to get my network to help me fundraise yet again. And that’s the reason I thought I’d do it barefoot as it would give me the best possible chance of raising awareness and getting people to donate."

  • Did you do any training?

"I did nothing. I walked my dog around my village for 25-30 minutes twice with no shoes on and that’s about it really. I wanted to trust myself to find the physical and mental fortitude to complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks."

  • Reflecting on the challenge, how did it go?

"Aside from the fact that it was a very cold, frosty morning which made my feet numb, the challenge started relatively well. I was up with the front-runners, moving well, and feeling positive.

"Things started to get tough about 3km in when I realised I had damaged my foot quite badly -  a chunk of flesh was hanging off the sole of my left foot which was still numb from walking in the cold conditions, so I didn’t even notice it at first. 

"Thinking sensibly, I knew that every step would cause more and more damage and just because I was in no pain, I could cause some real damage to my feet longer term. I made it to the top of the first peak and sat down to get some second and third opinions. The general consensus was that I needed medical treatment and should not continue. 

"On the way down my positive emotions turned to negative ones. I wrapped a bit of tape around my foot to hold my foot together and slowly limped down the mountain along a terribly gravelly path. At this point, I was 100% convinced that I was going to quit. I was in agony. I was damaging my feet. And I was only 4km into a 40km loop.

"One of the guides cut away the loose skin under my foot, we washed the small stones out, applied a dressing and taped the wound up again. This time I put my socks on to hold the skin and tape in place, and then I was back on track towards the summit of the second mountain.

"Adrenaline and excitement about finishing helped me to reach the third summit and I was elated to reach the top in under 9 hours."

  • Looking back, how does it feel?

"I am pleased to be able to have completed an already physically demanding challenge, but to do it with no shoes on is especially pleasing. I’m already approaching four figures in terms of donations which I’m incredibly grateful for."

  • Would you ever do the challenge again?

"Walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks barefoot? Absolutely no way, but I don’t think it will be my last charity fundraiser."

The work Mark has done to raise money for the British Red Cross is just one of many examples across the EFL network where Clubs and Club Community Organisations are supporting local people and charities in towns and cities across the country. 

Since 2022/23, the EFL and British Red Cross have been working in partnership to tackle loneliness and isolation by bringing people together through football, harnessing the power of the League’s network of 72 Clubs and Club Community Organisations.

Click here to donate to Mark's Just Giving page.

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