Gareth Wilson, British Canoeing’s canoe slalom podium technical coach, put his canoe kit back on over the weekend (4 April), not to paddle, but to run a full marathon in his back garden.
Starting at 6am in his paddling kit, Gareth completed the incredible challenge of 2110 laps of his back garden in seven hours and 15 minutes.
With his wife Kat currently expecting their second child in approximately two weeks’ time and with her being a vulnerable person at this time, the family have been self isolating for a number of weeks ahead of the birth.
Using inspiration he’d seen from similar efforts across the world, Gareth sought to continue his 2020 challenge and subsequently he did a sponsored run as he wanted to positively contribute towards the community as well as help raise money for the NHS who are tirelessly saving lives, as he is not able to volunteer himself.
To date, Gareth has raised nearly £4000 for NHS Charities Together on his Just Giving page.
Speaking on why he took on the marathon run in his canoe kit, Gareth said:
We are seeing people who are working in hospitals and people who are working in key positions that we are going to come into contact with in a weeks’ time and it was a way for us to help show our gratitude for the tireless work they’re doing.– Gareth Wilson
“We chose to support the NHS as it seemed the most obvious and worthwhile cause to contribute towards now in this national emergency.
“My wife, Kat, was reading out loads of messages of support which was great. It didn’t feel like I was running it by myself.”
Over the course of 2020, Gareth had set himself the target of completing 20 marathons throughout the year, and before taking on the garden marathon, he had completed six marathons to date.
With 14 still to go, he had planned to complete one around Lee Valley White Water Centre during the week of the Canoe Slalom European Championships in May, alongside some international coaching friends. This was unfortunately cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation.
If running a marathon in the back garden isn’t challenging enough, Gareth opted to put his canoeing kit back and run the distance in that.
He said: “It was the first warm day for a while and once the sun popped up over the house, I suddenly started to feel quite warm, which was one extra challenge."