A MARATHON runner from Milford Haven has set himself the epic challenge of running across America not once, but seven times.

Mark Llewhellin, aged 40, wasn’t always the endurance athlete he is today. At 16, he failed his basic Army fitness test and was voted the fattest person in his troop.

In 2000 he completed a 1,620-mile run between Denver and San Francisco, broke the 100 kilometre treadmill world record the following year, and in January 2014 did a 70 mile run in protest of the closure of vital services at Withybush Hospital.

Mark’s latest challenge is The Great American Journey of Hope, which is a running, walking and cycling event that anyone can join in.

The unique route crosses the United States seven times, echoing the design of the stars and stripes flag. It covers all 48 mainland states and goes through the majority of the main cities.

Mark, who began the challenge earlier this year, is running, walking and cycling the entire distance over two week periods due to commitments to his four year-old son who lives in the UK. It is estimated that he will cover 21,000 miles over 7 years. Along the way he hopes to raise money for seven different charities, including the Noah’s Ark Appeal, the official charity for the Children’s Hospital of Wales.

Mark said: "Ultimately I am a guest in this great country. The American people have welcomed me with open arms so I really want to thank them and create something great for them. This event is more about the people than myself.”

To find out more about The Great American Journey of Hope visit www.greatamericanjourneyofhope.com