A MAN from Woodley who ran 19 marathons for charity before injuring his back is now planning his return to running.
Matthew Widdup, 39, who works as a library assistant at Wokingham Library, took up the challenge to run 26 marathons – one for each letter of the alphabet – in memory of his brother Ian, who died from a brain tumour in October 2006, aged just 32.
Matthew managed to complete 19 marathons before undergoing surgery for a slipped disc in 2015 and discovering that his wife, Joanne, was expecting twins Harry and Alfie, who are now 18 months old.
Matthew said: “I have taken some time out from running long distances because of my back problems, but I have been cycling and doing other training to build my strength back up.
“I’ve always loved running, Joanne and I met through the a running group in Bristol where we used to live, and I love to cycle as well. When Ian died I knew I wanted to do something to honour his memory and running marathons was the obvious choice.”
Matthew’s challenge has taken him around the world, completing courses in Berlin, Oslo, Quebec, Xiamen in China, and Russia.
He said: “I’ve managed to visit places that I would not normally have visited. I completed the Kiev marathon in 2013, it wasn’t somewhere I would ever have thought to visit but the people were lovely and the place was amazing.
“Running a marathon means you often get to see a lot of the major sights of a place, like in Rome and Prague, the course goes right past some of the biggest landmarks which is incredible.”
But Matthew’s running came to a juddering halt in 2015 when he was diagnosed with a slipped disc, meaning he couldn’t even walk long distances, let alone run 26.2miles.
He said: “It was a big blow, but I needed to take time out anyway to help Joanne as we’d recently found out she was pregnant. When the twins were very young I started going out with them in their buggy to get my training back up, but now they are slightly bigger I can’t do that anymore.”
Matthew is now planning to complete his ‘V’ marathon, the Viking Marathon in Margate, this June to restart his fundraising for The Brain Tumour Charity.
He said: “I’m hoping to raise £2,600, I think I’ve raised just over £5,000 in total for the charity so far.
“The course (in Margate) is a bit repetitive, you need to run three laps of the course so I need to train myself to get into that mindset. I do a lot of running at Dinton Pastures so need to get myself used to seeing the same things three times!”