Endurance athlete Dave Moretta teamed up with his footballing heroes for inspiration as he prepares for the biggest challenge of his life.
To mark the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the former soldier will run from England to Belgium in just five days – that’s an average of 73 miles a day!
Dave’s epic journey begins in Preston at 9am on Monday August 4th and he envisages arriving at the Menin Gate war memorial in Ypres at midnight the following Friday.
In doing so, he hopes to raise £20,000 for local charity A Soldier’s Journey, which was set up by double amputee Rick Clement, who Dave served alongside in Afghanistan.
The club were only too happy to offer their support and invited Dave down to Brockhall to spend the morning with the first team squad, as they were put through their pre-season paces.
Dave is certainly no stranger to the rigours of tough training himself. Last year, he ran 30 marathons – including 18 in 18 days – and broke two British records along the way.
In March, the 27-year-old smashed a world record, for the fastest ultra marathon carrying a 20lb pack, but this latest event will be his most gruelling yet.
“The Road to Ypres is a mammoth challenge,” said the passionate Rovers fan, who joined the military at the age of 16.
“It’s the hardest event in the world regarding the centenary of the First World War. There are a lot of events going on over the course of the centenary year, but this one beats them all.”
In order to complete his challenge, Dave will be forced to run for up to 15 hours a day, and in searing conditions, but he admits he is fully focused and not fazed by the scale of the task at hand.
“I don’t think about myself once when I do these challenges,” he added. “When times get tough, I think about the reason why I’m doing it. I think about the lads who haven’t come home and the families who have lost loved ones. I’m a proud Lancastrian, we all have feelings, it’s just a case of putting them to the back of your mind and doing what you’ve got to do.”
After meeting manager Gary Bowyer, Dave was given the opportunity to address his heroes, who listened intently to his heart-warming story.
The Rovers boss has now urged his players – and the club’s supporters – to dig deep and help Dave achieve his fundraising target, which will go towards helping stricken soldiers and their families.
“It’s going to be a fantastic achievement by the lad and we’re just delighted that we could allow him to come here and give him a little bit of a boost before he starts,” said the manager.
“The training and the preparation and the dedication that he’s had to go through has been phenomenal and it’s for a very worthwhile cause. We wish him all the best.”
Dave added: “The media team at the club have been fantastic in helping to raise awareness of my events. I’ve watched Rovers for a long time and it’s fantastic to get the opportunity to come down and meet the players – it’s what every young lad dreams about.”