A marathon a day from Saint Malo to Montpellier


A British tree surgeon living in France is planning to run more than a marathon a day during an 800km charity-run challenge.

James Averty, 52, who lives in Brittany, hopes to average 45kms every day as he runs from Saint Malo, Ille-et-Vilaine, to Montpellier, Hérault, to raise money for two charities, an Arboretum on Jersey and Headway, a charity which helps people to adapt to life after brain injury.

His epic challenge starts on August 10.

“I love running and have already completed several Ultra runs in France, like the Tour de Mont-Blanc.

“This will be a personal challenge for me but it is also to raise money for two charities which are important to me.

“Firstly, Headway, whose services my father may need to use in the future and secondly, the Val de La Mare Arboretum where I worked as a tree surgeon for a few years.”

In 1975, the Littlewood Pools family donated a sum of money to create an arboretum on Jersey in memory of their son Nigel Moores, who died in a car accident in the south of France.

Hundreds of seeds of tree species from around the world were collected and the seedlings were grown by the States’ of Jersey nurseries and then planted out and grouped according to their geographic origin at the site on the West coast.

More than 400 species grow there, making it one of the most important collections of trees in the British Isles. Originally there was a full time member of staff and organised walks.

In the 1980s funding ran out and only the footpaths could be maintained. Many exotic trees became overgrown and some were lost.

The Great Storm of 1987 caused more damage, as did Dutch Elm disease.

It is still a popular place for walkers, but not many of them know about the treasures hidden in the forest. There are eucalyptus from Australia, 23 birch varieties, conifers, and a Japanese section.

Now an association on the island, Jersey Trees for Life is working to restore the arboretum, by looking after the existing trees and planting new ones.

Mr Averty has lived in Brittany for three-and-a-half years, and makes his living as a tree surgeon, so has a real interest in the future of an arboretum on his home island of Jersey.

“The arboretum is very close to my heart. A friend of mine, Amanda Mackenzie left enough money to plant 50 Chinese trees and this further money will be used to continue work at the section.”

He says he runs regularly and is fit from his physical job. He is looking forward to the run, even though he says he must be just a little bit mad to do it.

You can support him by giving donations on justgiving.com/fundraising/James-Averty1