Peterborough’s Reece takes on Great North Run in best friend’s memory

Reece Hill and Paul McCann
Reece Hill and Paul McCann
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The best friend of a runner who died during Peterborough’s half marathon will be pounding the streets this weekend in memory of an “incredible person”.

Paul McCann (32) tragically collapsed and died from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome during the 2016 Great Eastern Run at around the 12 mile stage of the race.

The dad of two was a trainee train driver for Great Northern and was only weeks away from completing his course when he passed away.

Since then family and friends have worked tirelessly to raise awareness of sudden cardiac death in young people, with the goal of raising £8,500 to fund heart screenings locally.

And now Paul’s great mate Reece Hill from Bretton will be running the Great North Run today Sunday (September 9) in aid of heart charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY).

Reece said: “Paul was my best friend and like an uncle to my children – we even lived together for a period of time.

“It was heartbreaking when Paul passed away - he was the man I turned to for help and advice. Still to this day I don’t want to believe it’s true.

“If I were to say he was the nicest guy I have ever met that would be an understatement. Paul always had the biggest smile on his face, even in tough times. He was just an incredible person, father and friend.”

Reece also works for Great Northern, securing his job as a train presentation team leader at the rail company thanks to Paul’s help, but his best friend passed away before he started in the role.

Since Paul’s death Great Northern’s operator Govia Thameslink Railway has named a train in his memory.

Reece joined members of Paul’s family last year in completing the Great Eastern Run in his name, and he now hopes to complete all 13.1 miles of the Great North Run, starting in Newcastle upon Tyne, in just 1 hour 55 minutes.

Reece set this target time as it was the duration of his last chat with Paul.

He added: “I have chosen to run the Great North Run in Paul’s memory for a few reasons. One of them is to try and raise as much awareness for Cardiac Risk in the Young as possible.

“And I have found that when I’m running it enables me to have my moments with Paul. I know he will be looking down and pushing me on.”

Chief executive of CRY Dr Steven Cox said: “On behalf of everyone at CRY I would like to say a huge thank you to the friends and family of Paul. We know that so many people from the local area will be rooting for Reece every step of the way.”

Anyone wishing to book into a free CRY screening local to them can do so in three clicks at: www.testmyheart.org.uk.