25–26 Jan 2025 276 days to go! #RunShow

Doug Richards

Inspired by watching the very first London marathon, I discovered running relatively late in life, in my mid-30s. Initially it was just a means of getting fitter; I was soon hooked and ran my first marathon within a year of my first one-mile run.

After several city marathons and an 80-mile ultra along the South Downs, a holiday run in the USA triggered a desire for combining running and travel which has led me to all corners of the planet. To celebrate my 50th birthday, I completed the Marathon des Sables, the self-sufficient 140 plus mile run in the Sahara desert, over 6 days. Since then I have run multi-stage events in China and Sri Lanka, as well as trail races in Siberia, Myanmar, and Jordan. I have run in a game reserve in South Africa, where nothing separated the athletes from the wildlife, and I have run on the one-mile thick polar ice-cap in Greenland.

After running a half marathon in the Australian Outback in 2017, I then achieved a long-held ambition by running in Antarctica in 2018, the year of my 70th birthday; thus completing runs of at least a half marathon on each of the seven continents, as well as on both ice-caps. In the past year, my focus has been on running on islands. I have completed multiple trail and road runs on Easter Island, Sao Miguel in the Azores, Cyprus and Bermuda, as well as a full marathon in my eighth decade, finishing in the lagoon island city of Venice.

It hasn’t always been a straightforward journey. At various points in my life I suffered severe bouts of anxiety and depression. I cannot overstate how much running has helped me deal with these episodes. I am privileged to now be both a Run Leader and an England Athletics Mental Health Champion which allows me to help others discover the benefits that running can bring to both physical and mental well-being.

When I retired from my career as a medical scientist in 2011, I was encouraged by friends and family to write about my running experiences and the way that running had helped me to overcome personal health difficulties. This led to the publication of my first book, ‘Running Hot & Cold’ that, I am proud to say, won the silver award at the 2016 Running Awards in London. This led to a second book titled ‘Can We Run With You, Grandfather?’, culminating in the life-changing experiences I faced in Antarctica. Now, work has begun on a third volume: this particular grandfather is not giving up adventure running just yet!