MANY of us would struggle to run a marathon – even if we split it up into a few miles a day. So imagine how much harder it would be if your belly was only a couple of inches above the ground.

Bandit the ferret is taking the challenge in his (tiny) stride. He may be only eight months-old, but the family pet can out-run most of us and is raising hundreds of pounds for The Children’s Book Project – a charity helping children to learn at home.

Fitted with a snug harness and lead, the furry fundraiser is completing up to three miles a day through Oxford’s Shotover woods, close to his owners’ family home in The Ridings.

Oxford Mail:

He is being put through his paces by Jim Woods, his wife Arabella and their children Rosie, 14, and Poppy, 12, during their allotted exercise sessions.

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Mr Woods said: “The little guy is making a great effort for an animal that doesn’t do straight lines. He seems to love it and is getting a lot of attention – from a distance – from other people out getting their exercise. You can see people trying to work out what he is.

“It’s good to be doing something to help which also makes people smile.”

Oxford Mail:

The effort began as part of the 2.6 challenge on what should have been the day of the London Marathon, April 26. But with Bandit showing no sign of tiring, the Woods family decided to go for the complete 26.2 miles. He has already raised £870 – with the total increasing by the day. And while he still has some way to go to match Captain Tom, he is certainly punching above his weight (which is only a couple of pounds).

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The mighty mustelid (ferrets are related to weasels, badgers and otters) is keeping fit on a diet of ferret pellets and is averaging a respectable 2 mph. He is expected to complete his mission at the weekend.

Mr Woods admitted the family was also getting a good work-out just by keeping up, saying: “Our concern is that Bandit will think this is ‘the new normal’ and we will have to carry on doing this every day.”

Oxford Mail:

The Children’s Book Project and Oxford-based children’s art charity At The Bus are putting together bundles of books and creative resources which are being handed out to thousands of young people aged between three and 11 from Oxfordshire schools.

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Books have already been presented to pupils from Rose Hill Primary; John Henry Newman in Littlemore; St Francis and Lark Rise primaries, both in Cowley; St Philip & St James in north Oxford; St Joseph’s in Headington; The Cherwell School in Summertown; Stephen Freeman, Willowcroft and GEMS in Didcot; Wootton St Peter’s Primary; and Bayard’s Hill in Sandhills.

Mr Woods added: “Children in disadvantaged areas are being badly hit as they can’t go to school and haven’t got the devices to learn online. We need to get these bundles to kids who wouldn’t otherwise be able to access books.

Oxford Mail:

“We are very proud of Bandit. Maybe the cat can provide a nice mouse for a treat for him when he finishes.”

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