Two wounded war heroes say running has kept them alive as they prepare for a double marathon challenge for the Virgin Money London Marathon’s Charity of the Year, Heads Together.

British soldier Karl Hinett and his USA counterpart Ivan Castro were both seriously wounded while serving in Iraq.

Hinett, now aged 30, was just a teenager when a bomb hit his tank in Basra and he suffered 37 per cent burns to his body while Castro, 49, was blinded when hit by shrapnel from a mortar blast.

Both men almost died as a result of their injuries but both found the strength to pull through – now they are going to be running both the Boston Marathon on Monday 17 April and then the Virgin Money London Marathon together on Sunday 23 April, with Hinett acting as Castro’s guide.

Castro, from North Carolina, said: “Running is crucial to me. I can attribute my recovery and my success since I lost my sight in a large part to running. This is no joke, running has kept me alive.”

Hinett, from Dudley in the West Midlands, added: “There’s a good old saying, ‘one foot in front of the other’ and I knew that if I could do that physically, mentally I would follow. So running was very much a coping mechanism.”

Both soldiers have been like men on a mission since embracing running, using the miles racked up to raise money for charities as well as for their own good mental health.

The Boston Marathon will be Hinett’s 150th marathon while the Virgin Money London Marathon will be the 10th year anniversary of his first ever marathon in 2007.

“After being injured I had a big look at life and decided to take life by the horns and experience as much as I could,” said Hinett. “Running has tied in with that so well because you can look anywhere in the world and you will find a race. I’ve used it as a great way to travel and to meet new people.”

Hinett’s marathons have seen him travel across Europe, America, Africa, Asia and South America, while Castro has been as equally as active, not only running marathons but trekking to the South Pole and climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Both men are running for Heads Together to raise money and awareness for fellow servicemen and women battling mental trauma.

They have both worked alongside Prince Harry to raise awareness of the issues those in the military face and are proud to be spearheading the campaign on both sides of the Atlantic.

“It’s a wonderful collaboration between the US and the UK,” said Castro. “We’ve been partners for many years, we’ve trained together, we’ve fought together and we’ve recovered together.

“Now Karl and I are going to be running two marathons, Boston and London, in six days together. Karl is going to be my guide and have the reins the whole way.

“I’m totally blind and I can’t train on my own. It takes a team to help me train and to race with me. It takes someone with the heart and the passion to take me out for a run and I’m the sort of guy who finds it hard to ask for help but, actually, that’s what this campaign is all about. It’s all about not having the fear of judgment if you say ‘hi, I need help’.”

Hinett continued: “And running and the London Marathon is a great example of that. You start running on your own and that often progresses to a group. Mental health issues you do start off on your own but it is coming together as a group. And there’s no better example of that than the London Marathon.”

To donate to Hinett and Castro’s efforts, click here