In the wake of an achievement which almost defies words, there were calls for Gary McKee to receive an honour. This, reckoned many, is what the system of MBEs, OBEs, CBEs, Knighthoods and so forth should be all about.

The calls were absolutely right. In fact, you could give Gary the lot, one after another, and it still wouldn’t seem enough.

So let us hope he is indeed called forward by King Charles III in the fullness of time. Let us trust that this quite remarkable 53-year-old man from Cleator Moor eventually leaves a palace or castle knowing that the country holds him in the highest possible official regard.

It would be an insult, in fact, if this did not happen. There could be few people more deserving.

In the meantime, though, there is a greater honour we can all bestow on Gary. It is one I fancy he would place higher even than a medal or a few letters, no matter how prestigious.

It is to keep the causes he championed, that he ran for, in lights.

News and Star: Gary, front right, ran a marathon every day last year for charityGary, front right, ran a marathon every day last year for charity (Image: Carlos Reina Photography)

It is to keep supporting them, now that his marathons have, for the time being, stopped.

It is to remember the names: Macmillan Cancer Support, and Hospice at Home West Cumbria.

These charities were chosen for profound and sensitive reasons by Gary. They connect his own family story – his late father, Victor, had lung cancer – with the community in which he lives, works and runs.

They are organisations that help people at their lowest, pick them up when in the greatest pain, and ensure that their days, however long or short, are spent with the utmost support and dignity.

They are the reasons Gary pulled on his trainers each day in 2022. They will now share over £1m as a result of his phenomenal athletic dedication.

A particularly heartwarming sight, in the wake of Gary’s 365th marathon on New Year’s Eve, was found on his JustGiving page.

Yesterday morning, a cluster of further donations kept appearing, some anonymous, some not. By midday on January 2, the total had passed £1.1m.

There remained momentum in the fundraising, which has involved nearly 35,000 supporters. Gary has done so much that he can now put those surely-tired feet up for a while, and still watch the money roll in.

That is some achievement. That is some impact. That is – an often misused word in sport, but entirely appropriate here – real legacy.

News and Star: Gary pictured after completing his remarkable challenge on New Year's EveGary pictured after completing his remarkable challenge on New Year's Eve (Image: Carlos Reina Photography)

As such, let those causes – and let us keep saying them, Macmillan Cancer Support, and Hospice at Home West Cumbria – remain front and centre in our thoughts.

Let them stay in the mind’s eye. Let Gary’s 9,842.83 miles keep them close, keep them prominent. Half-a-million-plus will help each one immeasurably, one imagines. Eventually, though, they’ll need more: more support, more love.

And Gary has shown the power to supply that lies within us. This is his other magnificent legacy.

He has rewritten what we thought possible. Until January 1, 2022, the notion of running a marathon EACH DAY for a full calendar year was too absurd even to consider.

Then Gary did it.

He summoned the physical and mental discipline without which he could not have come close to the feat. He sidelined whatever discomfort must have intruded along the way. He built a barrier against all the usual impostors – doubt, for instance – that prevent most people doing such immense things.

He made the impossible possible. He ran, and ran.

He did so with a bright and positive temperament which he revealed on his daily social media videos. He did so supported by a tireless team, such as the admirable Amy Caddy, Elwyn Evans and Oliver Hodgson, who have stopped at nothing to promote the story of Gary’s efforts.

He did so with his employer’s understanding. He did so with his family’s love. He did so with the surging, inspiring help of people like Michael Watson, who walked 500 Wainwrights, plus the equivalent length of Land’s End to John O’Groats, whilst Gary was running his marathons.

News and Star: The great Kevin Sinfield, right, was among those who support Gary in his 365-marathon challengeThe great Kevin Sinfield, right, was among those who support Gary in his 365-marathon challenge (Image: Gary McKee Twitter)

He ran with Kevin Sinfield, another great man who deserves to feel King Charles’ sword on his shoulder as soon as possible. He was noticed by national figures such as Gary Lineker, who applauded Gary on social media.

He has featured in national and local media, and become a celebrity in the best sense of the word in his home town and county.

He did it because, when all is said and done, a couple of local charities – and by extension the people they look after – were in need of help.

He did it guided by a simple, profound idea. When he spoke last year about the imagined trials of running repeated marathons, and why it never pains him, he said: "Your worst day ever [whilst running] is nothing compared to what some people are facing.

“My battle will end after 26 miles. It’s the same attitude when the weather’s bad. If it’s pouring down, I say to [other runners]: ‘Someone will be ringing the bell today for beating cancer’.

“If that person walks out into the rain that day it will be the best rain they've ever felt.”

Gary’s other legacy, then: to remind us what’s truly important, to underline what is real hardship and what is merely (merely!) an endurance challenge to overcome.

He is, when you consider all this, the very best of us. In which case, we should continue to do our very best by him, which is not simply with glowing thoughts and words – many though are necessary today – but with actions.

Macmillan Cancer Support, and Hospice at Home West Cumbria. To donate, click HERE