Friends pray for runner John Lawton missing in Greece
FRIENDS and relatives of a 62-year-old man who went missing during a cross-country marathon in Greece are continuing to pray for his safe return.
John Lawton, of Alsager, disappeared midway through the 35km Taygetos Challenge race in the mountainous Peloponnese region eight days ago.
Mr Lawton's wife Lynda – who had travelled to Greece with her husband for a holiday – their son Steve, and brother David have joined police and volunteers in Greece in the search for the experienced endurance runner, who is a member of Sandbach Striders running club.
Steve, also a keen marathon runner, has retraced his father's steps as part of the ongoing search.
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He said: "We are increasingly concerned for my father's safety and it is vitally important we maintain the momentum of the search."
Running club chairman Michael Escolme has known Mr Lawton for four years. The 41-year-old teacher from Elworth Road, Sandbach, said: "John and I have done quite a number of running events together.
"He's a very popular member of the club and we are all obviously very concerned about his welfare.
"John is always smiling, he's a very jovial man and a lovely bloke to get to know.
"He's very keen on off-road running and has run in Australia and done the Snowdon marathon three times.
"We are all terribly concerned about John and what has happened."
Mr Escolme has been in email contact with Mr Lawton's wife since he disappeared.
He added: "It is a more of a challenge when you run off-road because of the tough terrain and the holes. But John was very used to this type of running, so we can't understand what has gone wrong."
Mr Lawton was wearing only a T-shirt and leggings when he went missing.
He had set off with around 80 other runners from the village of Kardamyli on Sunday, April 8 and was last sighted at the race's fourth checkpoint.
He never made it to the fifth.
Fellow running club member Jason Bulley, a 46-year-old cameraman who lives in Sandbach, said: "If he had gone missing in Scotland or Wales, the running club would have undoubtedly got a minibus of volunteers together to search for him.
"John is probably the best prepared of all us in the club.
"He turns up with little bits of paper with information about routes on and warms up better than most of us. We're all just baffled by what has gone on."