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Cooper needs to up his training before Great North Run
COLIN Cooper will be joined by 40 other runners and a six foot monkey in Sunday's Great North Run.
The Hartlepool United manager has a healthy team organised to take part in the North-East showpiece, raising money for his own charity.
He set up the Finlay Cooper Fund in 2006, four years after he and wife Julie lost their son in a choking accident.
Earlier this year, Cooper climbed Mount Kilmanjaro and, after completing the 13.1 miles from Newcastle to South Shields for the first time last year, he can't wait to crack it again - even if his training hasn't quite been up to scratch.
"Someone asked me the other day - and the answer is what training? I do go out for runs, but I've not been out and done the miles,'' he confessed.
"I will do four or five miles and it's the other seven or eight I haven't managed to get yet.
"I did the Tees 10k last year the week before and people say it's a form of warm-up doing ten k. Six miles before the Great North Run is a good starting point, but unfortunately I couldn't do it this year.
"So I will try one long run beforehand. I did it in one hour and 50 last year, so somewhere close and I'll be fine, but I'd like to go quicker.
"I was genuinely scared on the start line last year because I'd never ran 13 and a half miles before in my life and then I felt brilliant at the end.
"If I can do a similar time, and a bit quicker, then I'd be delighted.''
Michael Evans, aka Pools' mascot H'Angus The Monkey will run in the furry suit, while Northern Echo sports writer and Darlington and Stockton Times sports editor Richard Mason is part of the fund's throng.
The charity raises funds to support children's causes and Cooper said: "We've got 42 people running for the charity, which is brilliant. Last year we had 15 dotted around at various points, but we have landed a few more places this year.
"The logistics of it is we want a team photo done, but it's hard. Looking at my pack, if I start any further back then I'm at Newcastle Airport !
"I'm right at the back... maybe it says something about my time.
"There's a lot joining us, H'Angus decided to try it and we have a bus going up for the Teesside lot and we want a picture before people head off to their own starting gate.
"For such a small charity, we have a real strong base running for us which is very pleasing.
"Last year it was ten to 15 and this year we want everyone together from the off for that photo which would be a lovely memento.
"I was nervous last year, but by the time I got to South Shields I actually enjoyed every step and that's the aim this year.''
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