A teacher and semi-professional rugby player has set himself a marathon target to help a charity close to his heart.

Barnard Castle School housemaster and winger with Darlington Mowden Park RFC Chris McTurk is to tackle seven marathons in seven days in aid of a charity that supports people living with pancreatic cancer.

The games teacher will carry out the challenge for the Three Bears Foundation from May 23, culminating in the Virtual Edinburgh Marathon on May 29.

Chris, who has been with the rugby club since 2011, is hoping to raise £2,500 for the charity, which aims to raise public awareness and funds for medical research and to support families affected by pancreatic cancer – one of the most under-diagnosed and least understood conditions.

The 29-year-old will run the 182-miles in between his teaching commitments, completing a half marathon before school and another afterwards during the week, and a full marathon on the first and last days of the weeklong challenge.

He said: “I relish a challenge and because of the impact COVID has had on sport and the rugby season, it provided an opportunity to do something meaningful, while maintaining my fitness levels. I have previously done a coast to coast run in four days, which I took a lot away from and can apply to this challenge to ensure that I am suitably prepared.

“I tend to raise money for and support causes close to my heart and I went to school with Three Bears’ founder Chris Burn, whose mother tragically died from pancreatic cancer. While playing sport at school, his mother and mine became friendly and would always speak on the sideline while supporting us both.

“The pandemic has been tough on many organisations and industries, especially charities, so hopefully I can raise as much awareness and money as possible to support the foundation.”

Chris has been preparing for his challenge by running, cycling and strength training using his home gym. Mowden Park RFC provided training equipment and will support Chris with his recovery by allowing him to join preseason training later than scheduled.

The PE department at Barnard Castle School has also given Chris equipment to use for training and, during the week of the challenge, he will be staying on site using the staff accommodation facilities. Several of his students have also offered to join in with some of the running.

Chris added: “Mowden has been fantastic and supportive of this challenge, as well as throughout my time at the club. Likewise, Barney and my colleagues have been very accommodating and helpful with my preparations.

“It has been touching when pupils have approached me to offer to run some of the miles and have pledged money too. I hope to use the experience as a learning tool for our pupils in assemblies afterwards.”

For further information about Chris’ challenge, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/edinburghmarathon202112-chrismcturk or

https://threebears.org.uk/.