A tour of three of West Cumbria's National Conference League clubs provided a penultimate leg for a special challenge.

Rugby league referee Ellis McCarthy has faced an endurance test as he ran 162 miles between all of the Conference League clubs.

He completed the equivalent distance to clubs based outside of his home in St Helens whilst lockdown measures were strict.

And the mammoth challenge has raised more than £1,800 for RL Cares, a national charity who provide support to rugby players and those involved in the sport.

Ellis, a grade two referee for the Conference League, said: “They’re going to use that money to help players who’ve retired to reintegrate.”

The penultimate leg of McCarthy’s journey took place on Friday as he ran from Egremont Rangers' Gillfoot Park ground to Kells' clubhouse via Wath Brow Hornets and Hensingham ARL.

McCarthy was joined on one of the toughest legs of his journey by Cumbrian RL referee Gareth Hewer.

Hewer said: “I got in touch with the clubs last week so he got a good reception, there was someone meeting him at each club, he was quite surprised.”

McCarthy said: “Cumbrian clubs are known for their hospitality.”

Hewer spurred McCarthy on during the uphill climb to Kells ARLFC.

The early runs took Ellis to Barrow Island, Askam and Millom rugby clubs.

Ellis said: “Hopefully, it will help me stay fit for when the season resumes, and I can get back into refereeing.”

Four West Cumbrian NCL clubs raised funds for McCarthy’s cause, Wath Brow Hornets presented Ellis with a £100 cheque when he reached the club grounds, Kells also made a £100 donation and Hensingham presented him with a club tie, providing food and drinks.

Youth chairman for the Hornets Martin Brough said that RL Cares is an important charity.

He added: “It’s close to our hearts, this is something that isn’t recognised enough in the sport.”

To support the fundraiser which is still growing, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ellis-mccarthy