Dr Doug Richards
Inspired by watching the very first London marathon, I discovered running relatively late in life as I approached my mid-30s. Initially it was just a means of getting fitter but 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 and this 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 various locations around 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. During the course of the next year, I plan to run in the Australian Outback and then, to celebrate the year of my 70th birthday, I will run in Antarctica in March 2018, thus completing runs of at least a half marathon on each continent, as well as both ice-caps.
It hasn’t always been a straightforward journey and at various points in my life I have suffered severe bouts of anxiety and depression. I cannot overstate how much my running has helped me to deal with these episodes and I am privileged to now be both a Run Leader and an England Athletics Mental Health Ambassador to help others discover the benefits that running can bring to both physical and mental wellbeing.
When I retired just over 5 years ago, I was encouraged to write about my running experiences and the way it had helped me overcome personal health difficulties. Feedback from people who had read passages of my story led to what had initially started out as a personal record for my family, soon becoming a best-selling book ‘Running Hot & Cold’ that, I am proud to say, won the silver award at the 2016 Running Awards in London. At the request of my publisher, a second book is now in preparation as I look forward to further adventures ahead.