A JUGGLING footballer completed a half marathon while keeping the ball in the air with his feet.

Perry Hall, from Ovingham, battled inclement weather last Friday to complete the unusual 13.1 mile challenge.

In the process, he raised £1,100 for the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

“It was far more difficult than I ever thought,” Perry said, “The mental aspect of looking at a ball for four hours was really tough.”

The 22-year-old ran in a circuit around Ovingham Playing Field, which is adorned with a special tribute to the NHS. Perry was due to run the Sheffield Half Marathon in March and was eager to put his training to good use after the event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He added: “I have got two blisters on each foot from about five miles in, it just added to the pain. Then my muscles started to seize up with about three miles to go.”

But Perry was cheered on the whole way by friends and family who provided a source of added motivation.

“My heart rate went up because of the extra pressure of people watching so that was always in the back of my mind,” he said.

“At some points I had no idea how long it was or how many miles I had done. I had my fitbit on, but couldn’t look at it as I was so focused on the ball.

“But the grass was measured within the route so I knew where the finish point would be.”

The former Prudhoe High School pupil had set himself a target beforehand of donating £3 to the air ambulance service every time he dropped the ball. And despite having to stop twice because of heavy rain and hail, he only dropped the ball 10 times.

“There was a point when I was in the zone constantly,” he added.

Perry is keen to tackle further football challenges once his back, which he described as being in agony, recovers.

“A marathon has been a goal for a long time,” Perry went on to say.

“But to run 26 miles is hard enough.

“I have been blown away by all the donations and the amount of money that has been raised.”