Soldier takes on 572-mile charity yomp for veterans

John Sarbutts
John Sarbutts

An ultra-fit soldier has set himself the challenge of trekking 22 marathons in as many days.

John Sarbutts has been in the Army for 17 years and been posted to many of the planet’s terrifying war zones.

But now he he wants to test himself in a different way with this grueller in aid of armed services veterans.

He will set off on Monday and walk 26 miles each day between Langtree Park in St Helens and Fulwood in Preston: a total of 572 miles in little over three weeks.

John, who lives in Leigh, will carry a 60lb pack, similar to that carried by soldiers on operations.

He said: “I’m excited. I don’t think my body is excited, but my mind is! It’s a chance for me to give something back. It’s a challenge for me.”

John is taking on the epic endurance test to raise money for Combat Stress, a veterans’ mental health charity supporting people with conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety.

He has so far raised more than £850 and has set himself a target of £5,000.

He decided to do it for 22 days to tie in with a 22 push-up challenge by supporters of Combat Stress.

The 38-year-old chose to support the charity as he was recently diagnosed with PTSD.

He has completed nine tours with the Army, serving in Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Ireland and Cyprus.

But the experiences have taken their toll.

He was initially diagnosed as an alcoholic but after contemplating suicide, John was reassessed and found to be suffering from PTSD.

John said: “I received great support and treatment from the Army and medical professionals and it’s ongoing to this day.

“I now know that I have PTSD and that I will live with PTSD for the rest of my life. There is still a long way to go, but it’s manageable and I now have a positive outlook on life and the future.

“I am just one of many, many sufferers and I’m glad I was caught whilst I was falling. Sadly, some people aren’t as lucky and can’t see a way out, which is why I’ve taken on this challenge.”

John is encouraging people to join him for parts of the marathon walks to keep him company.

He said: “Thinking of these people will spur me on. There will be times I will feel I can’t go on, but I have to stay positive. I’m not just doing it for me, I’m doing it for them.”

Sponsor John at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/John-Sarbutts