A TOUGH trio of ‘ultra-runners’ will begin Britain's longest non-stop race in Worcester as they follow the escape route of a defeated English king.

Iron men Paul Ali, Allan Rumbles and Tim Welch hope to prove their mettle as they begin the epic 615 mile run this Saturday from Old Powick Bridge on the edge of Worcester.

They will follow the Monarch’s Way, the route by which Charles Stuart (later crowned Charles II) fled for his life after the Royalist defeat at the Battle of Worcester on September 3, 1651.

Rather than the New Model Army on their heels their enemies will be fatigue and doubt as they break through the pain barrier to reach their destination on the south coast.

As they follow in the footsteps of the man who later became known as 'the Merry Monarch' they will be cheered on their way by Worcester re-enactors and members of the Battle of Worcester Society.

The run, called 'the Monarch's Way Ultra' has been organised by Lindley Chambers of Braintree, Essex, an ex-soldier from the Royal Irish Regiment and a former firefighter.

The fastest of the men, who are all experienced runners, could complete the challenge in just 10 days. Charles took six weeks before he fled by boat in Shoreham on the south coast.

There will be 83,000ft of elevation change over the course of the whole route, forcing the men to dig deep into their reserves of mental and physical endurance.

Mr Chambers admitted he did not know whether the men would finish the race as such a run has never been done before.

The runners will be sleeping in tents and carrying some food and water in packs weighing around 10kg.

They will complete around 43 miles per day, sometimes over quite remote and hilly terrain.

The route will take in such historic sites as Boscobel House and its Royal Oak, famous as a hiding place of the future Charles II, heading through Stratford and down through the Mendip Hills towards Bristol, through the Cotswolds towards the south coast, finishing at Shoreham-by-Sea.

The runners are Paul 'Smuggy' Ali, 44, of Reading, a business change manager at Covea Insurance who will be running in support of a children's hospice charity (Alexander Devine Children's Hospice Service), Allan 'I never get lost' Rumbles, 48, a builder from Wallington and Tim 'the cut off king' Welch, 45, of Lancashire, a director of finance with the Cheshire and Wirral Partnership who is fundraising for JDRF which aims to end type 1 diabetes which affects his second daughter.

Mr Chambers said: “I thought it would make a fantastic race. I ran a few sections of it myself and thought it had the hallmarks of a tough adventure.

“This is the longest one I have organised and the longest non-stop footrace in Britain. It is potentially the longest in Europe.

“It is a real test of character. Fitness comes into it but it’s more stubbornness and durability and will-power and looking after your kit.

It’s a long way and I don’t know whether anyone will finish it. No-one has done a race this long in the UK.

"It is great historical route, passing through some fantastic places."

The progress of the runners is monitored via GPS devices and can be followed online.

The website is www.challenge-running.co.uk/monarchs-way-ultra.

To sponsor Paul Ali visit www.justgiving.com/paulali2016