A 73-year-old man from Ystwyth Valley, Llanilar, has run a whopping 1,000 miles in 100 days in order to raise money for charity.
Retired headteacher Richard Evans began running on the first day of lockdown, and has raised over £6,800 for Bronglais Hospital’s chemotherapy unit to date.
The ex-Ysgol Syr John Rhys headteacher has organised a group run for charity every year for 17 years on the trot, but said he had to improvise this year with the current pandemic.
“I organised a race in 2003, when I was at Ysgol John Rhys,” Mr Evans told Ceredigion Online. “It was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the school.
“Some of the parents said ‘we’ll do different events’, and I thought to try and raise money, I’ll organise a race.
“From 2004 we started raising money for [Bronglais] hospital.
“Every family needs the hospital at some time.£
The Red Kite Challenge
The race – which became to be known as The Red Kite Challenge, quickly grew in popularity within the local community.
Mr Evans explained that he wanted to do something similar this year, but was told he couldn’t hold it in Devil’s Bridge, where it was usually ran.
The retired headteacher decided instead to do something by himself.
And this year, he also decided to donate the money to the chemotherapy unit at Bronglais Hospital, having had a personal experience with it himself.
“They were appealing for money for the chemotherapy unit,” Mr Evans said. “I have experience – my partner has had chemotherapy in the last year.
“I’d sit with her for most of the day. I realised how hard they were doing their job there.
“But people would have to walk through the ward to get to their offices.
“I also knew a lady who was having chemo, who had to go to Swansea from Machynlleth five days a week.”
The ex-headteacher used to run internationally for country, amassing multiple medals as he did so – including a gold for Britain in the World Masters in Czechoslovakia.
“I started running for my school, then my college, and even for britain a few times,” Mr Evans reminisced.
“I prefer the mountain trail over the track. The last medal I had was for running for Britain in the World Masters in Italy.
“Another time in Italy we won bronze. And in Czechoslovakia we won the gold.
“It was so close, there was only one point between us and second.”
“I wasn’t too sure because of my age”
Mr Evans started running on the first day of lockdown. He explained that he didn’t want to tell anyone at first out of fear that he would struggle too much and have to stop.
“I wasn’t too sure because of my age,” the 73-year-old said.
“I’m always running, always exercising every day. When I was young I was doing 10 miles a day in just an hour. But now it takes me twice as long.
“I knew I could do it”
“I knew I could do it, but i had to up my mileage quite a bit. I was [running] about 40 miles a day.
“In my first week I did 65 miles, but I had to get to over 10 miles a day.
“I was eventually on 80 miles a week, so I went on JustGiving, and made it an official challenge.
“It was very painful”
It was all going fairly well. Then, in the last fortnight, Mr Evans started to get a pain in calves.
The 73-year-old realised he had developed shin splint, an inflammation of the muscles in your lower leg that is commonly associated with running.
He first noticed it while he was mid-jog.
“It was very painful,” Mr Evans said. “I had it really bad.
“I was in pain for a quarter of a mile, then i had to walk a few miles.
“The next day I did half a mile in the morning, quarter in the evening. I was in a lot of pain again.
“I wasn’t going to have anyone saying I didn’t do it properly”
“The next few days I was able to run four or five miles, but it came back.
“I spoke to a physio, who could see I wasn’t running well. She told me what I needed to do, and where to massage and work on.
“The pain went – it wasn’t perfect, but it went.
“The miles that I walked, I knocked them off. I wasn’t going to have anyone saying I didn’t do it properly.
A proud moment
All in all, Mr Evans ran an impressive 1,011 miles, finishing off his two-month trial on Aberystwyth promenade.
He described how the people who had turned up were “as proud as I am”.
“Quite a lot of people turned out,” he continued.
“It wasn’t a great day – it was a bit cloudy – but about 100 people turned up.
“It was a great turnout as there weren’t any shops open, any pubs open.
“I’ve had some fantastic views”
“I coach quite a lot, and a few of those wanted to run in with me – while socially distancing.
“When we got to the pier they wanted to clap me in, so they ran on.
“I’ve had some fantastic views, some brilliant sunsets. Its been nice having something to do, and to raise money for an important cause
The JustGiving page for Richard’s cause is still open – you can donate here.
Mr Evans has asked that if you have any memories you would like to share with him, then get in contact via his email: firstname.lastname@example.org.