19 APRIL 2007

Double Olympic gold medallist Kelly Holmes is used to rubbing shoulders with the world's top athletes, but the middle-distance champ got to meet a team of runners with a difference this week.

She was tasked with introducing a group of international joggers aiming to circumnavigate the globe for charity by participating in The Blue Planet Run. The entrants, who include a gardener, a jazz musician and a professional marathon competitor, are due to set off on June 1, and hope to complete the 15,200-mile trip in just 95 days by running round-the-clock in ten-mile shifts.

Their high-profile endurance efforts are intended to raise funds to help bring safe drinking water to those who need it most. In the course of the journey the runners, who kick off in New York, will pass through 16 countries including Ireland, England, Russia, Mongolia, China and Canada.

Although she won't be joining the participants on their round-the-world trip, Dame Kelly, who retired from athletics in 2005 after competing in the Athens Games the previous year, will be putting on her track shoes next month to offer support to runners on the ten-kilometre Great Manchester Run. "I'm running for fun," says the sports star. "I just want to go out there, enjoy the atmosphere and help and encourage everyone else."

Photo: ©
The 37-year-old track star meets up with the 20-strong team of amateur runners who are preparing to circumnavigate the globe to raise funds for a water charityClick on photo to enlarge
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