STOKIE superhero Spencer Smith will don his fire kit for the challenge of a lifetime in 2018.
The conference manager at the North Staffs Medical Institute, who also works as a retained firefighter, is set to run an incredible marathon and a half in his full gear to raise money for four charities.
But even that isn’t enough of a challenge for the 43-year-old, who last year raised £800 when he ran two half marathons in two weeks wearing the heavy protective clothes.
To make things even harder, this time he’ll be wearing breathing apparatus that weighs in at a backbreaking three stone.
Spencer explained: “It’s challenging, but in a good way if that makes sense. As much as I’m fearful of it, I’m also excited because how much do we know about ourselves unless we push ourselves to the limit?
“I know it’s going to be difficult. Last time I made the mistake of setting myself the target of finishing in under two hours and I don’t think I appreciated how difficult it would really be.
“There’s nowhere for the air to ventilate at all – the fire kit is designed to keep it inside. I’ve got to be very wary of the risk of heat exhaustion, so keeping well-hydrated is key.”
Spencer, from Hartshill, eventually finished the Liverpool Half Marathon in two hours, 16 minutes and the Potter’s ‘Arf Marathon in two hours, 29 minutes.
He has pledged not to set himself a time goal this year when he runs the Liverpool Rock N’ Roll Marathon on May 20th, followed by the Potter’s ‘Arf again on June 10th.
The dad-of-one has already embarked on a gruelling training regime with the help of his girlfriend Lucy Corbett, a fellow running enthusiast.
He said: “I’m going to the gym three times a week and training, similar to what I did for the last half marathon in terms of trying to increase the distance a bit each time.
“Last year I went out to do a few test runs and it was quite humorous to see people’s faces when they spotted a firefighter just jogging around the streets of Stoke, but the support was amazing.
“The encouragement on the day at each race was out of this world, just people showing support and shouting alongside me. Whenever I was struggling it just gave me that lift.”
Spencer, who is based at Newcastle Community Fire Station, plans to start training in his breathing apparatus as the first race draws closer.
The runner is raising money for four charities – Cancer Research for his late grandad, Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) in memory of fellow firefighter Mark Hancock and the Peter Pan Centre for children with special needs in Newcastle.
He is also fundraising for the Donna Louise Starlight Fund in memory of two-year-old Oscar Schonau, the son of his friends Dave and Lynette, who died suddenly from sepsis in 2016.
Spencer said: “He developed chicken pox, they thought he would be alright but then I think he got blood poisoning because of it.
“It saddened me not just as their friend, but also because I’m a parent myself.”
To sponsor Spencer, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SpencerSmith3 .