A Durham man is getting in the habit of setting extreme running challenges as he gets set to take part in the Prince Bishops Durham City 10K dressed as St Cuthbert, complete with sandals.

Fifty-seven-year-old Paul Smith from Sherburn Hill, well-known in the North East running community for his dedication to athletics and fundraising, is donning the robes of the patron saint of the north to take part in the annual 10K run on Thursday 15 July in aid of St Cuthbert’s Hospice.

The amateur athlete, who represents Crook Athletics Club, has run at least 5K every day since 2007 and consecutive daily running day 5310 will be on the day of the Durham City 10K. Paul is looking forward to raising a smile among fellow runners and supporters with his novel attire, many of whom will be participating in their first public event since the COVID pandemic.

Paul says: “It will be fantastic to see fellow runners out in force at the Durham City 10K after a year in lockdown and I’m looking forward to cheering up fellow runners and spectators by dressing as St Cuthbert. The event is a welcome shot in the arm post-covid and an indicator that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Paul, who works for Durham County Council, is no stranger to unusual running challenges having ran as St Cuthbert at Durham City 10K’s inaugural event in 2016 complete with tonsure, before returning as the saintly figure with the addition of a mitre in 2019. He has also donned the attire to run from York Minster to Durham Cathedral and has completed a 30-mile run around the centre circle on Consett AFC’s pitch at Belle Vue Stadium dressed as Bobby Moore.

Paul adds: “I’ve run every day since 2007 so I like to keep my running fresh by coming up with different ideas for fundraising. Although I’ve run as St Cuthbert before, he’s a figure that is synonymous with Durham, and as St Cuthbert’s Hospice is the event’s charity partner, it’s only fitting that I get the habit and sandals out again. I’m planning for a wig this time as my wife Susan may not be too keen on her husband sporting a monk cut again, but who knows what will happen on the day. To tonsure or not to tonsure, that is the question!”

Paul will be running as part of the 25-strong St Cuthbert’s Hospice team taking part in the festival. His JustGiving page can be found at: https://bit.ly/3zV9RgN

“St Cuthbert’s Hospice has fantastic people and facilities and is a real jewel in Durham’s crown. I’m looking forward to raising funds for this great cause,” concludes Paul.

Organised by Events of the North, in partnership with Durham County Council and Durham University, the Durham City Run Festival will be held from 15-17 July. Over three days, the festival will bring running events to the heart of the city, including the Prince Bishops Durham City 5K and 10K, Run Like a Legend Mile, and Paula Radcliffe’s Families on Track.

Events of the North has worked closely with Durham County Council’s Safety Advisory Group in recent months to ensure that an event-specific safety plan is fully in place to allow the festival to go ahead. To secure an entry at the Durham City Run Festival, visit www.durhamcityrunfestival.com, and for the latest festival news, follow @durhamcityrun on Twitter and Instagram, and find the event on Facebook.