Michael and Sean 1A bus driver and duty manager from Sunderland have hit the road in a different mode of transport as they prepare to tackle the Great North Run in the name of charity.

30-year-old Michael Heskett and Sean Smith, 38, from Stagecoach North East, are in the final stages of preparation for the north east’s most famous half marathon and are hoping to raise over £550 between them for the North of England Children’s Cancer Research (NECCR).

Leaving the buses behind, Michael and Sean have been pounding the pavements, and are both aiming for a time of less than 1 hour 30 minutes for the world famous race. With personal bests of 1 hour 26 minutes and 1 hour 16 minutes respectively, the dynamic duo are both avid fans of the world famous event, with Michael running his fourth race and Sean completing his 23rd run.

Michael, a Sunderland Harrier runner, is facing an extra challenge following a serious foot injury, and is training hard to get back into shape after a football match saw him break his leg earlier this year.

Keen supporters of the children’s charity, Michael and Sean are delighted to be running again for them and are receiving lots of support from colleagues, family and friends, in addition to a donation of £100 each from Stagecoach North East to help boost their fundraising efforts.

Michael said: “This has been a tough year and I have been plagued with injuries, but I am going to give it my best. I was really disappointed when I had to drop out of the Sunderland half marathon earlier this year due to my accident, so I will be pushing myself as hard as I can. Knowing that I am raising money for such a fantastic charity will certainly help when the times get tough around the course, and the crowds are always very supportive and cheer you on.”

Sean, a former driver with the local bus operator, is a keen marathon runner and has taken part in many races over the years, including Berlin and London.

He added: “At my best level of fitness I train four or five times a week, so it is a pretty intense schedule with my aim to finish under 1 hour 25 minutes. But I love this race and even though I may not reach my personal best of 1 hour 16 minutes, which I did some time ago, it is still a fantastic experience, with the added benefit of running for a great local charity.”

The NECCR is a North East children’s charity formed in 1979 by a small group of parents whose lives had been changed forever by childhood cancer. Over the past 36 years the NECCR has helped fund research that has established the North East as one of the world leaders in the research of childhood cancer.

Steve Todd, Assistant Operations Manager for Stagecoach in Sunderland, said: “We are very proud of Michael and Sean for taking on this tough challenge again, and hope they reach their fundraising totals. Everyone at the depot is behind them and we wish them all the best on the day.”

For further information about Stagecoach North East please visit www.stagecoachbus.com/northeast