A WEYMOUTH athlete is on track to achieve long-distance greatness.

Andy Roper has headed to America to compete in Sunday's Chicago Marathon.

The event is one of the six Abbott World Marathon Majors with the 40-year-old having already crossed the finishing line in London, Berlin and New York.

Success in Chicago will leave Roper with just Tokyo and Boston left to complete the super six – races he hopes to tackle over the next couple of years.

He explained: “Sports like golf and tennis have their Majors and it’s the same for marathon runners.

“These six marathons are the ultimate for athletes and getting a place on the starting line is an achievement in itself because they are so popular. For me it started out as a bit of an impossible dream but having done three I am determined to complete the set.”

Roper, leisure club manager at the Hotel Rembrandt, was a regular sight pounding the streets of Weymouth and Portland as he stepped up training for his date in Chicago on Sunday.

And when he was not hitting the Tarmac he could be found putting in the miles on the treadmill.

“The training is hard,” he said, “and it certainly doesn’t get any easier with age. But I’m lucky working in a leisure club because it means I can do a bit extra in the gym before and after shifts.

“I must admit there are times I’d rather be sat in front of the television with a beer and a take-away but completing the Majors is what drives me on although I’ll be relieved when I’m finally done.”

Competing around the world might sound glamorous but Roper is having to self-fund each trip.

But despite the expense the big-hearted runner is also raising money for charity.

“It’s not easy”, he added, “and I could not do it without the kind support of my family. There are entrance fees, flights and hotels to pay and it doesn’t come cheap.

“But running marathons also gives me the chance to help others and this time I’m raising money for local charity, Julia’s House.”

He added: “I’d like to thank everyone who has already pledged a donation and if anyone wants to help out there is a Just Giving page available and also a sponsorship form on the Hotel Rembrandt Leisure Club reception.”

To show your support visit justgiving.com/Andrew-roper79