Why run a 66km Ultra Marathon in Tenerife at 42 years old?
Most of my friends and family think I’m crazy.
All my life I have been challenged by the most severe situations; growing up in Birmingham, dealing with having four sets of parents with my brother, who were through divorces by the age of 14.
The last set were a lovely family that took me from the Birches Children Home.
Paul and Naomi were the inspiration my life needed. They saved me from a path of destruction and stabilized me when I needed it most.
At the age of seventeen and half I landed in Tenerife with £20 in my pocket, and a return ticket that gave me 24 hours to decide if I liked it.
I guess I did, I’m still here.
Something that always kept me focused was sports and football; we set up a local side, ‘Tenerife Sur’, and played many wonderful years in the Spanish league. I won the league’s top goal scorer many times, plus other trophies.
My wife Maria was always a runner, but until I finished football due to a ripped thigh (six times), did I take an interest in her sport. In fact, I would joke about it being boring… how wrong I was!
So, I went on my first 3km run.
It was boring.
Imagine kicking a football for years, scoring goals, and suddenly you’re on a lonely road with nothing happening, simply waiting for it to be over. Nevertheless, I persevered, and slowly (because of my drive), and the results more mental than physical, I ran 3 times a week, slowly getting up to 5km.
Over my years on the island I have run corporate companies, alongside having a successful excursion business, GIFTEXCURSIONS. Gift stands for ‘Get Information Tenerife’.
So, with all the stress of work, football was my outlet, but now running was beginning to take its grip.
I’m an addict of life.
If I Party, I party hard.
If I work, I work hard.
I don’t seem to do half measures.
Next, I’m clonking 40-50km a week and can’t get enough. I love it - your best tunes and
the sun rising over the other canary island of La Gomera; it’s so special.
It cleanses my soul.
During my runs I would sort out work issues, problems, feelings, I could then complete my day with ease.
Next, my wife Maria wanted to open a sports shop!
The shop opened with the slogan ‘Get Inspiration For Transformation (Gift)’. The idea was to support the sports we did as a family. My daughter Nicola and son Marco were surfers, also in to football, Kung Fu etc. Me, an ex-footballer, now in to running, and my wife Maria, who was in to kung Fu, surfing, running – she also took part in Spartans Tough Mudders three times.
Our aim? To provide personal service and advice. Not just sell an item with a name, but sell the right equipment with the knowledge from our own sporting life.
We opened GIFTtheSPORT on October 1st, 2016.
As the business has grown, I have run with customers. A customer will come in and ask for the best run - next thing they know, they are running a route with me, a route they would never find on their own.
I don’t even know them, but it’s a nice touch, and I guess a bit of a different service.
I signed up to do the Tenerife Blue trial. My first marathon - a grueling 43km mountain run.
Early morning 10km road runs twice a week, living on spinach and fish for dinner, and carbs in the day (my foster brother Jordan lived on this diet, ask him). On the weekend’s I would run from 1000 meters to 2900 meters, around 30km - this went on from January 2017, until the race in June 2017. Most of the time, the pain of the run was taken away by the beauty of the Tenerife Mountains. It is surreal.
A typical day of eating and training would look like this -
Monday, Wednesday, Friday
• Pint of lemon water
• Weetabix and banana
• Green tea, American coffee
• Turkey breast, green pepper, avocado and cucumber
• Banana, fruit, handful of nuts
• Choice of fish, spinach, broccoli and runner beans
• Weights 4x20 reps
• x2 chest, back, shoulders, biceps, triceps
Protein shake, BCCA.
On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I eat the same but with rice or potatoes for lunch. This diet cuts me up and gets me to the correct weight. If I have a big run, I carb up all week, with my pre-run meal being sushi…
I completed the marathon in 7 hours and 50 minutes.
Guess what I said? Never again...
Running and the sports shop is my new passion.
They go hand in hand, and if you told me 24 years ago I would be involved in a sports shop business, with a beautiful family, training with my wife to run a 66km Ultra Marathon, I wouldn’t have dreamt it in my wildest dreams.
I won’t stop.
I am driven by the hardest obstacles in life.
I am a survivor, and thrive off the challenge running gives me.
To add a touch of where I came from in life, I will be running the marathon for a local children’s home charity here in Tenerife, Helping Hands. So, every step I take, every km I achieve, I will be giving a kid in a similar situation as I once was that helping hand.