St Albans team prepares to race the sunrise for armed forces charity

Matt Heywood is preparing to Run Against the Sun

Matt Heywood is preparing to Run Against the Sun - Credit: Archant

A St Albans team of two will be chasing the sunrise in a 430-mile drive through the night to raise money for an armed forces charity.

The challenge, known as Run Against the Sun, takes place on Saturday and involves a seven-hour drive from the furthest point east in the UK to the furthest west, beginning at 9:34pm in Land’s End and ending by 4:32am when the sun will rise in Lowestoft.

In a meticulously planned journey, Matthew Heywood, 28, who lives and works in St Albans, and his teammate Andy Liu, 29, from Hemel, will attempt to avoid road works, holiday travellers with their caravans and any other significant obstacles that might delay them.

The aim is simply to reach Lowestoft before the sun does.

Matthew said the run should be just about achievable without breaking the speed limits, but the team will need to be exceptionally quick when refuelling to make up time.

He said: “We aren’t going to risk life, limb and license but it will be a tough challenge especially considering it is the shortest night of the year.”

He said exhaustion could pose a challenge, but clear roads and fewer distractions typical of night driving should make for an enjoyable experience. In a bid to keep the pair lively, Matthew said the car will also be well-stocked with a variety of caffeinated drinks.

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Under the terms of the race, teams carefully choose their own cars to make the journey as seamless - or as challenging - as possible. The pair have chosen a 3.7 litre Nissan 370Z, a car not known for fuel economy, and a Vauxhall/Holden Monaro VXR, a 6.0 litre V8 monster.

The team have raised almost £750 to date in aid of the SSAFA military charity, which seek to provide lifelong support for over 55,000 armed gorces servicemen and women, veterans and their families every year, including welfare advice and support, health and social care services, and other specialist and housing services free of charge.

Matthew described his team’s choice of charity as a testament to the work of close personal relations: “I have friends and family that serve or have served in the armed forces, it is great to provide something back to those that protect our country by raising money for SSAFA.

“We have worked hard over the last few months arranging a variety of commercial sponsors to support the charity. In exchange we have allowed them advertising space on our car, and this has allowed us to create our “Gran Turismo” inspired livery. We are both really pleased to see how many different companies have rallied to support and promote our challenge.”

The Run Against the Sun challenge was also attempted by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear, when he beat the sun in a Jaguar XJ by just five minutes.

Matthew added: “My friend Andy and I thought we would do something different to stand out from most other personal fund raising campaigns and a Top Gear style challenge certainly fits the bill!”

To sponsor Matthew and Andy, visit their fundraising page.