Charity hero and former solider Michael Ferndale finished his backwards tour of duty in London with a bang as the Reverse Running Challenge concluded on Wednesday, writes Josh Graham.

Following tremendous efforts in Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff, Ferndale, 48, returned to the city he calls home and put in a 26km stint in eight hours before finishing at Lord’s. 

Scottish Ferndale took on the novelty challenge of five backwards marathons in five days to raise money for both the Lord’s Taverners and The Change Foundation, who use sport to inspire social change among young people and give them opportunities that many take for granted growing up.

A combination of injury and logistics meant Ferndale had to settle for what was still a hugely impressive 150km over the five days and he even encountered a bit of celebrity assistance on a gruelling final leg.

Royal Borough Observer: Michael Ferndale poses by Regent's Canal on the final leg of his marathon five-day challengeMichael Ferndale poses by Regent's Canal on the final leg of his marathon five-day challenge

“To be honest with you, in the morning it was fine but then the whole five days started to tell and the last couple of hours were a bit tough,” said Ferndale, who ran the 2017 London Marathon in reverse.

“My feet were going, everything hurts, and I’m delighted it’s done; I feel exhausted but I’m sure I’ll perk up pretty quickly. 

“We saw Victor Meldrew from One Foot in the Grave, otherwise known as the actor Richard Wilson, who we met at lunchtime today and Chris Tarrant has even donated.

“We started off at Warwick Avenue at the Tube station and met the guys from Runner’s Need, the support team.

“We headed off down Regent’s Canal, which was great actually - I think I’ll do more canals, nice, flat, and steady. 

“Then we came up and went into Regent’s Park and ended up doing big laps with lots of dogs - It’s always the dogs that give you the most interesting looks they kind of get it as well as young children.”

Ferndale will now divert his full attention to his fundraising campaign before looking to set up an annual schools reverse day next year to coincide with his next unique backwards endeavour next summer when he hopes to take in five different continents. 

Royal Borough Observer: Michael Ferndale racks up the miles in reverse after a gruelling final legMichael Ferndale racks up the miles in reverse after a gruelling final leg

“The whole point of this is generating momentum for the schools annual reverse day, there’s still loads to do but I’m quite pleased it’s over so I can enjoy a couple of glasses of red wine, enjoy dinner tonight and have a nice lie-in tomorrow morning,” said Ferndale, who feasted on ice cream and chocolate after finishing in the capital.

“What we are going to do next year is five continents, so we will start in Asia, probably somewhere like Tokyo because the original plan a few years ago was to combine this with the Paralympics in Tokyo given that we do disability sport.

“The idea will be to do 25km in five continents in five days to raise £25,000. We will come back on the sixth day and schools will have their first annual schools reverse day, where kids do whatever they want in reverse, running against each other, wearing their uniforms in reverse.

“They will all pay £1 to upload their funny videos and stuff and what we would like to happen is just for it to build every year organically where kids get more and more involved and let’s raise £10million plus for kids. Even if five per cent do £1 there’s £500,000 - that’s the real aim of this.”

Royal Borough Observer: Michael Ferndale is ready for his next epic adventure after rounding off the Reverse Running Challenge in his home city of LondonMichael Ferndale is ready for his next epic adventure after rounding off the Reverse Running Challenge in his home city of London

Ferndale spent seven years in The British Army serving in Kosovo and Iraq and claims to have once gone five days in a row without sleeping during warfare.

His unique style of fundraising was born over four years ago when a throwaway drunken joke was taken literally after Ferndale had already completed, in much more conventional style, the punishing 257km Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert and a front-on London Marathon for Lord’s Taverners.

“I’m doing this because I’m an idiot, that’s why, my big mouth,” explained Ferndale, who boasts nearly two decades of experience in corporate boardrooms and is currently a partner at leading firm ECC Consultancy.

“We were at a cricket dinner at Lord’s and somebody said: ‘Oh, are you going to run the marathon for charity again?’

“I said ‘Well, I’m not sure I can really speak to everybody and ask them again.’ I will admit I was probably a little bit tipsy and I said ‘Oh I suppose I can do it backwards or in reverse, ho ho ho…’”

“But suddenly there were these emails flying around that this was going to happen, so I thought ‘Oh heck, I better do it’. So, I did it but this time I only have myself to blame.”

Next year, Ferndale hopes to run 25km backwards every day for five days across five continents to raise £25,000 for charity.

Michael Ferndale will be tackling the Reverse Running Challenge between October 9-13 to raise money and awareness to help disadvantaged and disabled young people to fulfil their potential and build life skills. Visit https://donate.giveasyoulive.com/fundraising/michael-ferndales-reverse-running-challenge to make a donation.