Ibi Ali and Luke Wigman

Wounded war heroes Ibi and Luke ran seven marathons on seven continents in seven days to raise £1million for a new forces rehabilitation centre.

As they crossed the finishing line in Australia after completing one of the toughest sporting challenges there is, the knowledge that they were helping others was the true reason behind their beaming smiles.

The pair were both injured while serving on the front line and underwent rehabilitation at Headley Court, Surrey.

Ibi, from North Yorkshire, lost part of his right arm in Iraq while Luke was badly injured by an IED in Afghanistan.

The veterans decided to take on the World Marathon Challenge in 2017 to fundraise for a new state-of-the-art rehabilitation centre to help other injured servicemen and women.

From Antarctica’s frozen wasteland to the final race in Sydney, the marathons they ran took place in some the world’s most extreme conditions. As the pair ran over icy plains and paths in searing heat, they clocked up more than 360 miles between them and 59 hours of flight time. Luke, who served as a paratrooper in the RAF, averaged 3:09:32 for each marathon, finishing 3rd in the entire competition despite the damage sustained to his left leg in Afghanistan in 2011. 

In successfully completing the challenge with an average time of 4:05:27, Ibi became the first amputee to complete the event, which also took in races in Chile, Miami, Madrid, Marrakech and Dubai. 

“Pain” and “fear” are the words Luke and Ibi used to describe their memories of their efforts. Luke says: “I think we both had struggles at different points. The important thing is to think, ‘How do I get through today?’”

But they took constant motivation from knowing that, by pushing their bodies to the limit, they were helping fund a new Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre at Stanford Hall, Notts.

It was opened in October, replacing the existing facility in Surrey, which was established in the 1940s.

Luke says: “It gave you the motivation to dig deep when times were tough, and just to get to the end.” Ibi says: “For Luke and I to complete this shows that rehab works, but it needs to be better. That’s why I did this crazy challenge. If we can help just one person go through rehabilitation, we’re happy with that.”

The pair also hope they have inspired others to follow their example.

Ibi explains: “We were in a very fortunate position. We were injured, we managed to make the most of our lives, so if that’s the message we can get out to anyone who is injured... because, genuinely, if I can run seven marathons in seven days, then anyone can.”

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