A SOLDIER is turning his back garden into a racetrack by completing a gruelling 42 marathons in as many days to raise cash for the NHS.

Sgt Stephen Johnson, of 13 Air Assault Support Regiment, based at Colchester Garrison is in the middle of the incredible challenge which is due to finish next week.

The challenge replicates the UK Four Nations Challenge famously completed by Eddie Izzard who reached a total distance of 1110 miles within 52 days for Sports Relief in 2009.

Sgt Johnson's 42 marathons will leave him an agonising eight miles short, a distance he will make up the next day.

Each marathon equals 728 laps of his garden at home in Braintree meaning he will have run around it a staggering 30,000 times by the end of his efforts.

And on one of the occasions he completed the 26 miles carrying a 20kg bergen.

Braintree and Witham Times:

Sgt Johnson, who also volunteers for scout groups, said: "All my grass has gone.

"The garden is now a running track.

"The idea was to complete the Four Nations Challenge for the the NHS.

"I wanted to do it in consecutive days because since the start of the pandemic, and at all times, the NHS doesn't take a break.

"I wanted to show my appreciation.

"My wife Louise as Multiple Sclerosis and is on the vulnerable list and lots of people in my family have had help over the years.

"I really wanted to do something to help."

Sgt Johnson has already raised more than £2,500 for NHS Charities Together.

He is an experienced runner having completed the London Marathon twice, the Colchester Half Marathon and a Navigation Marathon in Thaxted where entrants do not know the course and are just given instructions when they arrive.

"People think I am a bit bonkers," he said.

"I have got 11 blisters, a bruised toenail, pains in my Achilles and my knee is strapped right up.

"Everyday I have to get into a cold bath and then do some stretches to make sure I am ready to go again.

"But the amount of messages I have received has been unreal.

"To be honest, it is better than the London Marathon because I don't have to queue for the toilets.

"I can take the odd break and I have my fan club cheering me on with my wife and three sons.

"She has been incredible because I really am making a mess of the garden.

"It is completely churned up."

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