An Alnwick man who has quit smoking, shed five stone and set himself a personal challenge of completing his first marathon before he reaches 50, has won a free place in the Active Northumberland Kielder Marathon.
Jon Duffy’s inspirational story struck a chord with the competition judges who were impressed by his personal journey to reduce his weight and improve his health.
Only a few years back, Jon was overweight and a smoker.
After undergoing two knee operations which resulted in further weight gain, Jon decided to make some long-term changes to his lifestyle to improve his fitness and quality of life. Such has been the success of Jon’s quest that he is now set to tackle the 26-mile marathon track around Northumbrian Water’s Kielder Reservoir on Sunday, October 8.
He said: “I put on a lot of weight after my knee operations and knew I had to make some changes or my health would suffer.
“I quit smoking and took up running to try to lose the weight. I took it very gently at first and didn’t like it at all, but I persevered, building up my fitness and stamina.
“It is amazing, if you stick at it, how quickly you improve and I soon started to enjoy running. Now it is a big part of my life. It’s cheap and you can run virtually anywhere.”
Jon, 49, joined Alnwick Harriers and said the club welcomed him with open arms. He has now progressed so much that he runs in the top group and competes in races in events from 5k to half-marathons, including cross-country.
He added: “I’ve never attempted a full marathon, but with my 50th birthday looming next year I thought it was the right time to set myself a big challenge.
“Kielder is such a fantastic setting so I thought I’d give it a go. If I can complete this it will give me a tremendous sense of achievement. My fitness now is better than it was when I was 18. I run three or four times a week and there is now no greater feeling than putting on your trainers and going for a run.”
The Active Northumberland Kielder Marathon Weekend 2017 is run by Events of the North, a company led by Olympians Steve Cram and Allison Curbishley, in conjunction with Northumbrian Water, Active Northumberland, and Northumberland County Council.
The weekend’s events are all based around Northumbrian Water’s picturesque Kielder Reservoir and waterside sites and whether it’s the marathon, half-marathon, 10k or the Run Bike Run, the views for athletes and spectators are spectacular and breathtaking.
For more information about the weekend and to take part, visit www.kieldermarathon.com. However, the 10k and half-marathon have sold out.
○ The Forestry Commission has become an official partner of the Kielder Marathon weekend. Through the partnership, the Forestry Commission will be able to showcase different aspects of Kielder Forest to both participants and spectators. Anyone who is a Discovery Pass holder with the Forestry Commission can claim a special 10 per cent discount on race entry.