FOR most mere mortals, running a marathon means venturing out of their comfort zone.

But Mike Ellicock has been through much worse.

The reigning Moyleman champion and record-

holder, 42, was almost killed on duty with the Parachute Regiment in Sierra Leone in 2000.

After jumping into a jungle swamp in an ultimately successful bid to rescue five hostages from rebel forces, Mike was severely wounded in an explosion and airlifted to hospital.

The message he sent home from the operating theatre was simple: “Tell Dad, I will run again.”

He went on to serve in Iraq, before leaving the forces to become chief executive of education charity National Numeracy.

Last year, he completed the Bob Graham Round, the most gruelling challenge on the British fell running circuit.

“There’s a Clausewitz quote I really like that goes ‘War is the province of physical exertion and suffering’,” he says.

“A big part of combat is getting your act together. Being hard is pretty overrated.

“So when I run I try to be super organised and quite structured. If you run out of energy because your administration wasn’t good enough, you’re not going to finish. It’s a simple equation.”

Born the son of a British soldier stationed in 1970s Berlin, Mike was a member of the Great Britain junior rowing team but made an overnight decision to join the Army after narrowly missing out on selection for the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

“I was instructing Royal Marines down in Exeter, so being moderately physically fit was part of the deal,” he adds.

In 2015, he came within weeks of holding two world records simultaneously after setting a still unmatched time for running the marathon distance while carrying a 20lb pack.

He had already broken the record for the 40lb pack at the 2013 London Marathon.

But there is a special place in his heart for trail running.

“Off-road is just a lot more interesting,” he says.

“It’s more sympathetic to your body and more natural than just pounding the pavements for 26 miles.

“When you run on the flat it’s exactly the same action all the time, and that’s quite a strain.”

Mike, who is married with three young daughters, lives in Lewes.

“I love the Moyleman because I can jog up to the start and jog back from the finish,” he jokes.

“It’s a lovely course.”