An animal lover from Hereford has set up a virtual running challenge to encourage others to don their running shoes and help her raise funds for animals in need.

Anna Simpkin, from Hereford, will be taking on the London Marathon challenge next year for the RSPCA and as part of her fundraising, she decided to set up a virtual running challenge for others to get involved and run the 26.2 miles but spread out across the month of October.

Anyone who takes on the challenge will then receive a bespoke medal at the end of the month. So far this has raised £2,500.

Anna has named the challenge Once Upon a Run and it has had more than 300 people sign-up from all over the UK and has now completely sold out. It has been so successful that she is hoping to organise another one in April 2020 just before the actual marathon.

She said: “I came up with the idea for the virtual run last year. I wanted to give something back to encourage people to participate and support a great cause. I think sometimes people can be a bit weary when they are being asked for money for fundraising events so I thought by receiving a bespoke medal, it shows that they have achieved something.

“It was my first marathon last year. I’m new to running and had never really done it before but I wanted to do a marathon as I was turning 30. It’s one of those bucket list challenges, and I’m really passionate about animals so I knew I wanted to do it for an animal charity.

“My mum adopted her cat from RSPCA Herefordshire eight years ago and I’ve admired the amazing work they do for a long time. I have two cocker spaniels, a two year old called Indie and a seven month old puppy called Jeff. Both feature on the bespoke medal I designed as they are both my pride and joy. I’m a big animal lover and I always say if I ever win the lottery, I would rescue all the cats and dogs!”

For more information about the virtual running challenge, visit: https://onceuponarun.co.uk/enter-now/

To help support Anna’s challenge, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/annasimpkin2020