Blues harp player runs barefoot marathon in memory of dad

Click to sponsor Liam at

The early mornings and restricted diet are enough to put most people off running a marathon. But what if you had to learn how to run again, barefoot-style? That’s the challenge local lad Liam Ward is setting himself in the lead up to the Greater Manchester Marathon.
Liam, 23, works as a care assistant in Whalley Range, but on 29th April he will be donning his shorts and – crucially – his “barefoot” shoes and running 26.2 miles to raise money for The Stroke Association.
“When it came to my first training run, I realised I didn’t have any running shoes” says Liam. “I decided to give it a go in my barefoot shoes, and it’s just stuck”. Liam wears Vivobarefoot shoes, designed to allow the feet to move as if barefoot, with no ankle support and only a thin puncture-resistant sole for protection.
This means learning to plant the ball of the foot, not the heel, as is the more common technique. The hard work will all be worthwhile for Liam if he succeeds in raising £2,000 for The Stroke Association. Liam’s dad, Stephen, had a severe stroke at the age of 48, which left him without the use of his right side, and needing daily care, until his death at the age of 52.
“My sisters and I were still at school when dad had the stroke,” Liam explains. “We didn’t know anything about stroke or what it would mean for us day-to-day.

“The Stroke Association provided us with amazing support and advice at a really tough time for us. They also fund pioneering research into stroke prevention, so hopefully others won’t have to go through what we did”.

“I ran a half-marathon for the charity in 2009, but this time it’s twice the distance and twice the pain. And of course, this time I’m running barefoot-style. The first time I tried running with the new technique, I couldn’t walk for a week after.”

As well as being part of a local Sunday league team, Liam plays harmonica in a blues band, and is hoping to put together a fundraising gig to help him on his way to that £1,000 target.
“I’m sure the lads at football and in the band will chip in if they have any spare cash after all the beer,” said Liam. “Every penny counts, and means that The Stroke Association can continue providing much-needed support and funding innovative research”.

You can sponsor Liam by visiting his online fundraising page on You can pay by credit or debit card, and the money will go directly to The Stroke Association. Where supporters are UK taxpayers, the charity will automatically receive 28% extra in Gift Aid
Liam will also be posting training updates on his blog at


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