Mark Cooper – Edinburgh endurance athlete

Mark Cooper

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go”
TS Eliot

Mark Cooper is an extraordinary young man living in Edinburgh.  On the 1st of May, he will embark on an epic journey: running through Holland, Belgium, France and Spain completing 50 marathons in 56 days.  That’s a total of 1300 miles!  

Mark had his light bulb moment after running his first marathon a couple of months ago and it’s been non-stop on the campaign trail ever since.  He has been already featured in the press, and Edinburgh Spotlight decided that Mark, who has this gruelling challenge ahead of him, would be a perfect candidate for our Spotlight feature. 

Aged only 27, Mark wasn’t always so sporty.  He used to have late nights out drinking like any other young lad; and even used to smoke.  One day he decided to stop his unhealthy habits and get fit.  Mark started running short distances, slowly building up to 10km runs.  

Now he totals over 100 miles in a week, completing a marathon every Sunday; he covers the rest heading to and from his work and on evening runs.  He has full support of DLA Piper, the law firm he works for, who has been very generous in supplying Mark with some sponsorship to kick-start his campaign. 

Why is he doing all of this?  Mark is running for the Edinburgh Headway Group charity, who provided much needed comfort and reassurance  to him when his mother Sheila passed away from a brain haemorrage when he was only 14.  He aims to raise £25,000 so that Edinburgh Headway can continue to help other people cope with their losses through conditions that could affect anyone. 

Thinking about the challenge ahead

Mark has had a taster of a challenge already by cycling from John O’Groats to Land’s End with a work colleague for charity.  It was an incredible journey and one he will never forget.  Mark says he is happier on two feet that two wheels, and running has now become an enjoyable pastime. 

You will find him running through the streets of Edinburgh on a daily basis and also has a longer route to North Berwick via the John Muir way.  He also enjoys running on the Union Canal as it is so flat; in complete contrast he also loves running round Arthur’s Seat.  He says “I am so lucky to live in Edinburgh as the city is so inspirational for me to get up and go”. 

Mark describes himself as an average guy. Hardly average when you consider his commitment to the challenge ahead, but he is certainly humble, without a trace of arrogance or anything other than selfless motives.  He has a close support network consisting of family and friends who will be taking it in turns to be with him every step of the way. 

Edinburgh born and bred

Mark continues to raise awareness of his venture by competing in other running events in Edinburgh, such as the Bupa Winter Run at the beginning of the year, and his last event before he sets off: the Chris Hoy half marathon in April.  Mark also plays in a band, The Nature Boys who are performing a fundraising gig at The Three Sisters in the Cowgate on Friday 5th February.  Mark is also finalising plans with Meadowbank stadium to hold an event which will allow you to run a lap of the track with him, no matter how old you are,  as well as planned quiz nights and other events. 

Edinburgh Spotlight asked him how he was going to celebrate crossing the Spanish finishing line and he replied “I’ll give a big hug to all my family and perhaps have a wee beer to celebrate“.  We have every confidence that he will finish this course and no doubt immediately plan another one – Mark Cooper runs America ? 

Help received 

Mark has already been given tremendous support from the following people:
  • Craig Ali, personal trainer to ultra endurance athlete Mark Beaumont provides Mark with training advice to get him in perfect shape for 1st of May. 
  • Mhairi at Stride Orthotics donated her time and some orthotics to help Mark on his run
  • Westwoods Health Club at Fettes College who granted membership to him so he could train indoors when he needed to
  • Sandbaggers gave Mark a heart monitor
  • Dr Andrew Murray, who gives Mark top medical advice.

Anthony Bibby's logo

Edinburgh Spotlight has helped Mark by putting him in touch with Anthony Bibby, who kindly designed his campaign logo.  Also, Peter Vardy helped out in magnificent style by supplying Mark’s support team with a van to drive the route in.  Julia Forsyth who owns Your Big Ears has helped out with marketing ideas and numerous other people via email.  No matter how small you can contribute, Mark would welcome your advice and support through this epic challenge he’s undertaking.     

Help still needed 

Mark is still in need of corporate sponsorship to help cover accommodation costs, food and water for the journey, but perhaps most important of all, six pairs of neutral running shoes and a GPS tracker!  

Prizes for raffles and quiz nights would also be appreciated. 

If you know of anyone who might be able to help regarding these requirements, please contact Mark on

Contact and updates 

There are many ways you can keep up to date with what Mark is doing. 

You can donate money via his Just Giving page and keep up to date with his challenge via his website

You can follow him on twitter or become a fan on his facebook page and read his diary surrounding the whole event via his blog

Good luck Mark!

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