When Magpas Air Ambulance Dr Scott Castell decided to run 169 kilometres of organised races – in full air ambulance flight suit and kit bag (weighing 18kg in total!) – little did he know what a long and gruelling challenge it would turn out to be.

Dr Scott has worked on board the Magpas Air Ambulance as part of the charity’s lifesaving medical team in Cambridgeshire for 4 years. When the service, that relies on public donations to continue saving lives, got their new AugustaWestland 169 helicopter early 2019, Scott knew he wanted to do something special to help them raise the extra £50,000 a month the charity needed to fund the investment.

Hence, the 169 kilometres for the 169 challenge was born. Taking on a series of 10K and half marathon races, Scott had made a lot of headway in his challenge, with the final leg due to be completed in 2020’s London Marathon.

Then COVID-19 hit the UK. Not only were his upcoming races cancelled and the London Marathon postponed – putting the whole challenge on hold – but Dr Scott had to rise to the new challenges that he was facing. With his wife at home with their new baby, Scott worked tirelessly on the front line, both in the hospital and with Magpas Air Ambulance. As a charity that flies advanced care, usually only available in a hospital, to the patient wherever they have their incident, Scott and his team members were seeing the most severely ill people in the region.

Although not out of the woods yet, and still working day and night in uncomfortable PPE, this summer Scott’s 169 challenge was able to resume. Although getting back into it, and building up to the toughest run of his life, has been harder than Scott may have first thought.

He explains, “Training for the London Marathon has been incredibly tough. The kit and equipment I’m running with weigh about 18kg in total! I always knew it was going to be hard, but the magnitude of this challenge hits me in particular when I’m getting towards the end of my runs and the bag and boots really start to hurt. It’s at those points that I have to remind myself that all that pain and exhaustion will be nothing in comparison to how good it will feel when I finish the London Marathon for Magpas Air Ambulance!

“That’s what motivates me the most; having seen first-hand the advanced, lifesaving care this charity provides to people across Cambridgeshire and the East of England – I know what a difference the money I’m helping to raise will make.

“I also want to finish this challenge to make my wife, Hattie, and son proud. I want him to grow up and be proud that his dad did something that not many other people have, for a cause that means so much to me.”

Hattie and their son will be cheering him on on the day, and Scott asks you to do the same. “If you’re watching the London Marathon this year, please do look out for me in my orange flight-suit and med kit, give me a wave and make a donation if you can. I can’t tell you how much that support spurs me on. If I start hitting that wall – both physically and mentally – knowing I have people cheering me on and supporting me by donating to Magpas Air Ambulance is what will keep me going.”

Magpas Air Ambulance Director of Fundraising, Lucy Chapman,  is also keen for the public to get behind Scott “Before the pandemic we would have had a big team of volunteers in London, cheering Scott on and picking him up during what will be an incredibly tough challenge but unfortunately we’ve lost a lot of volunteers as a result of the lockdowns. It would be amazing if we could reach enough people with Scott’s story to give him the support on the day his passion and determination deserves.”

He’s been there for us throughout the pandemic, can you be there for him? If you want to show your support for Scott, you can donate to his Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/challenge169 or text MILES to 70580 to donate £5*. All donations will go towards helping to keep Magpas Air Ambulance flying and saving lives, thank you.

*Text MILES to 70580 to donate £5 Texts cost £5 plus one standard rate message and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give £5 but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text MILESNOINFO to 70580.