Interview with MarathonManUK, Richmond's most remarkable sportsman

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He is possibly Richmond’s most incredible athlete. Until April 2014, Rob Young was your run-of-the mill 31 year-old living a regular life in East Sheen with his fiancée Joanna and two young children and working as a manager of a specialist car parts company.

But all this changed while he watched people taking part in the London Marathon. Moved by the fundraising stories he heard, he decided to do something that has never been done before – run 367 marathons in a year. For those of you who haven’t clocked it yet – that’s a marathon a day plus an extra two thrown in – that is the equivalent of running from London to Sydney. Some days he runs more than one marathon to get nearer to his world record breaking target. He is so far up to around 310 marathons.

Rob’s tough childhood was his inspiration in choosing his charities (NSPCC, GOSH and Dreams Come True) and goes someway to explaining where he finds the inner strength to complete his monumental task.  His early years were scarred by an abusive father who not only beat him pretty much every day but also sexually assaulted his sister, tortured his mother and even killed the family dog.

Most of Rob Young (aka MarathonManUK) running has taken place in Richmond (mainly in Richmond Park) but for the next few months he is in the States taking part in Race Across USA where he will run from Los Angeles to Virginia. We were lucky enough to speak to him from Arizona and put some questions to him.

Q. Why have you decided eight months into the challenge to head to the US?

I need to go abroad to get enough official marathons under my belt. There are only 200 in the UK. I was very lucky to take part in a race that only comes up every four years.

Q. It is one thing to be inspired by watching other people run a marathon, but why did you decide to do something so challenging and life changing?

Because I want to inspire young children who have no self-esteem to realise that anything is possible. My childhood was so awful and I could have ended up on the streets. But I have been lucky to get out of something traumatic and I want to send out a message that you can do something to change your life for the better. I feel so lucky now and am blessed with a wonderful fiancée and two beautiful children.

Q. How much running are you doing a day?

I am challenging myself as much as I can. I managed 90 miles in 40 hours and nine marathons plus 100 miles in five days. There hasn’t been a day that I haven’t run.

Q. Surely tiredness and injuries have played their part though?

Yes, I am averaging just under four hours of sleep every night. I have had my fair share of injuries – both my knees had to be drained, I have had huge problems with my tendons and at one point my throat closed. I still run though and according to The Institute of Sport I have one of the highest pain thresholds recorded.

Q. Were you much of a runner before this challenge?

No not really – I did the odd 5k or 10k but I was much more of a cyclist.

Q. This must be a marathon for your family. Have you found any time to spend with them?

A. This has been the hardest thing for me. I can deal with the injuries but the emotional side of missing my family has been really tough. Being in America and not having your family around you makes it very stressful. And I know it is equally stressful for my fiancée back home and I really want her to come out and see me but I have given up my job to do this so we really don’t have any money left. Although this is a difficult process we both know why I am doing this and it is important to both of us.

Q. You’ve talked about your low points in missing your family. But what have been your high points so far?

It has to be meeting people along the way. I have met some fantastic, inspirational people and lots have come along to run with me for some of the marathons. It has really lifted my spirits.

Q. Before you went to the States, where did you do most of your runs?

The Richmond Park marathon course was a regular – I could probably run that with my eyes closed. I also really enjoy running along the Thames Pathway.

Q. What are your plans for when you return home?

I would like to get married and also find somewhere more permanent to live, hopefully still in East Sheen. I think I probably need to get another job too to finance all this!

How much money have you raised so far and what is your target?

We have raised around £70,000 already but would like to raise £200,000 if possible.

If you would like to sponsor Rob, please go to:

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=runfordreamscometrueandnspcc

To read more about Rob Young, please go to:

http://www.marathonmanuk.com/

 

Sarah Bruce-Ball