A UNIQUE marathon challenge which has captured the hearts of many members of the community came to an end in fitting fashion on Sunday.

Fifteen marathons to mark the 15 goals scored by striker Dominic Solanke concluded with Cherries fan Andrew Hardiman being joined by others for the final act of a fundraiser which has drawn national attention.

Andrew set about the running feat in memory of his father Paul, who passed away due to cancer in November last year.

The 28-year-old wanted to raise money for Cancer Research UK after his dad was diagnosed in early 2020.

And in the week before the start of the 2020/21 season he decided upon the simple equation – when Dom scores, we run (a whole marathon).

Sunday’s run ended at Vitality Stadium, where Christchurch resident Andrew was greeted by family and friends.

Bournemouth Echo: Andrew Hardiman turns the final bend in his epic marathon challengeAndrew Hardiman turns the final bend in his epic marathon challenge

Reflecting on the challenge, he told the Daily Echo: “The whole thing of course will be a great memory to dad but especially Sunday.

“It gave me special time to reflect. Each run that I went out on I looked back and had some nice memories but Sunday will certainly stand out for bringing everyone together. It was a time to remember dad.”

Sunday’s group run saw Steve Amey and James McCafferey join Andrew on the full marathon, while others joined along the way.

Andrew added: “It was just great to have the community come together.

“After the support I have had throughout the year with the challenge and everything that has gone on, it was nice to have everyone together and for me to repay a few people and say thank you.

“There were a lot of people I had not seen for a while.

“It was obviously emotional with the circumstances. A lot of dad’s friends were at the finish line and family as well.

“The start of the day was more of an enjoyment element of seeing a lot of different faces.

"Towards the end it became a lot more emotional with remembering dad and seeing a lot faces dad knew as well.”

Bournemouth Echo: Cherries fan Andrew Hardiman crosses the finish line to complete his Dom Scores, We Run marathon challengeCherries fan Andrew Hardiman crosses the finish line to complete his Dom Scores, We Run marathon challenge

The challenge was not without its tests. Appendicitis in November “was not ideal”, especially as Solanke netted a brace against Reading a week or two after Andrew had his appendix removed.

But he put on his running shoes and was out on the road within weeks of his operation.

“Not really on doctor’s advice but I just had to go out,” he said.

“People that go through cancer treatment, the pain they go through, what I was doing was nothing in comparison.

“For me it was a case of just grit my teeth and keep doing it not only for dad, but for everybody else that goes through that treatment.”

He has now raised more than £12,000 for Cancer Research UK, with more than 460 donators, including Solanke himself and former Cherries goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

Andrew said the total was “way beyond” what he set out to achieve.

“The target on the JustGiving was £1,000 and honestly hand on heart that was what I thought I would be pushing to get,” he said.

“Maybe I would get a few friends out who would join me for a few runs.

“I never thought I would raise the amount I have done. I never thought I would have the support I have had from people. I never thought I would have articles in newspapers. I never thought I would be on Sky Sports. It has been crazy.

“I guess it shows the good side of social media and how the power of it can promote good things.

“I have got a lot to thank the community for with how it has taken off and people donating who I never thought would donate, with Dom and Aaron Ramsdale as well.

“It was pretty special how it took off.”

Andrew has a well-earned break in Cornwall planned for later this week before lacing the running shoes up again for a run, which he said will definitely not be a marathon.

He took the opportunity to thank all those who had supported him throughout the challenge.

“The two guys that ran with me on Sunday for the full thing, Steve and James, have done a lot for me with planning the route and promoting it,” said Andrew.

Bournemouth Echo: Andrew was met by family and friends at the finish line on SundayAndrew was met by family and friends at the finish line on Sunday

“My family with my other half Ellie and my mum Debbie have been a huge support for me throughout it. They have nursed my legs, they have helped run baths, fed me and provided me food and drinks along the way.

“And then just a general thank you for everyone who has been involved in it.”

To visit Andrew's fundraising page, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/domscoreswerun.