A PAIR of Oxfordshire men are planning to run five half-marathons for charity.

Faringdon friends Paul Smith, 32, and Neil O’Regan, 38, are hoping to raise £2,000 for Charlbury organisation SpecialEffect, which helps disabled people access and play video games.

Their first half-marathon, in Reading, takes place tomorrow and will begin what they have dubbed their “Route 66 challenge.”

It will be followed by one in the Forest of Dean, on March 30, the Shakespeare Half Marathon in Stratford-upon-Avon, on April 27, Windsor, on September 28, and a final run in Oxford on October 12.

Mr Smith, who works for recruitment firm Wells Tobias, said he has done half-marathons before but was inspired to run for charity by Mr O’Regan, who is taking part in the Twin Town Challenge in May.

The event sees participants drive from Witney to Le Touquet, in France, and is also in aid of SpecialEffect.

Mr Smith said: “I was speaking to Neil at an event about what he is doing and decided it would be a good opportunity to get fit again and raise some money for charity.

“We have been training quite a lot and have so far reached a personal best of one hour and 39 minutes.”

At the moment they train mostly in the mornings after starting in January.

He added: “We are hoping to get a new personal best in each race and at the moment we feel quite good about how it is going.”

The pair also plan to start a blog about their experience, which will detail how they are training and where they come in the races.

Mark Saville, spokesman for SpecialEffect, said: “We are blown away by the enthusiasm and determination of Neil and Paul to help people with disabilities.

“Just to complete one half-marathon on behalf of the work we do is wonderful enough, but to take on five is amazing. We wish them the very best for their challenge.”

To find out more or make a donation, visit Mr Smith’s JustGiving page at justgiving.com/route66-challenge