WE ALL know it is hard to run a marathon, but how about seven in seven days, barefoot?

This is the feat that Andy McGhee faced as he looked to raise £10,000 for the Paediatric High Dependency Unit at Southampton General Hospital.

The 37-year-old from Eastleigh was joined by friends Dylan Moore, 40, Haig Youens, 38 and Richard Grim, 31.

He said: “It was superb, a really good challenge. Running as a group definitely helped as we had moments where we struggled together.

“The last marathon (on the Isle of Wight) really took its toll.”

Andy wanted to give something back to the paediatric unit after his son Jude, five, was rushed to hospital in 2013, suffering a severe asthma attack.

The resuscitation team brought his oxygen levels under control and he went on to spend seven days in the unit.

Andy said: “Doing the run bare-foot will hopefully grab people’s attention, encourage them to donate to the cause and join with the team following our progress throughout the week.

“Hopefully it will go some way to helping other children in the future to receive the specialist care, which if it hadn’t been there for Jude, I would be telling a very different story.”

All four men love to run, however, none of them had taken on this sort of challenge before.

And for Andy, running barefoot was the ultimate personal goal.

The personal trainer wore a very thin sole of rubber made by Xero Shoes, which are the closest sole on the market to being completely barefoot. They are attached with a basic lace to protect him from broken glass and other objects.

“You can’t run normally,” said Andy as he spoke about the shoes. “You have to run flat-footed and that can really start to take its toll after a while.”

The route was originally billed as a Cornwall to Hamble challenge, but this proved to be too expensive, with the cost of travel and overnight stops, so a more local adaptation was drawn up.

The trio started their challenge on Monday September 21 by running 26.4 miles – marathon distance – from Brokenhurst in a loop through Sway and Sandford.

They then took on Beaulieu’s hills on Tuesday and moved on to the Isle of Wight on Wednesday.

From there the runners took on Haslemere and Devil’s Punchbowl in Surrey and then the New Forest.

Their final leg started from Maybush and looped round through Hamble and West End.

This has seen Andy, Dylan, Haig and Richard run a total of 185 miles – the distance from Southampton to Lincoln.

If you wish to sponsor the runners, please visit www.justgiving.com/ bare7x7challenge.