PICTURE GALLERY: John O’Groats to Land’s End no challenge for Erith marathon man
PUBLISHED: 17:36 06 June 2013 | UPDATED: 17:36 06 June 2013
Watching his beloved Crystal Palace seal promotion to the Premier League was a satisfying end to a gruelling month for diabetic ultra-runner Gavin Griffiths, from Erith.
Diabetes fact box
Type 1 diabetes is generally something you are born with or contract at a young age.
That is opposed to type 2 which is likely to be caused by genetics or bad diet.
Type 1 makes up less than 10 per cent of cases in the UK.
The rarer kind of the disease is fatal unless treated by insulin while type 2 is initially treated by increased exercise and modification of diet.
The previous day he had just finished running 30 miles a day for 30 days, all the way from John O’Groats in the Scottish Highlands to the most westerly tip of the UK, Land’s End.
It would have been quite a challenge even if Gavin did not have type 1 diabetes, the less-well known strand of the disease which lay behind his desire to take on this epic fundraising mission which was almost a year in the making.
Not only did he run the equivalent of more than a marathon a day for a month, he stopped off at a number of football grounds en route - and he has raised almost £7,000 for Diabetes UK and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
“By the last day my legs were killing me,” he says. “As well as organising the route I had to keep an eye on my blood sugar levels throughout the day which was quite a challenge.
“I aggravated an old ankle ligament injury quite early into the route but thankfully I saw a sports masseuse who kind of saved the challenge.”
Gavin, of Luddestone Road, financed the 30/30 challenge himself and had to rely on family and friends to carry his luggage. He carried an Olympic torch with him as he was a torchbearer for last summer’s Games.
Complete strangers helped him by putting him up for the night and the avid football fan took in a range of grounds, from Forest Mechanics and Wick Academy in Scotland to the hallowed halls of Manchester United’s Old Trafford and Liverpool’s Anfield.
“I was amazed by the hospitality of football clubs. Fleetwood Town gave me a meal, a shower and let me watch the FA Cup final, Manchester United gave me a tour of the ground and Exeter City wrote an article about me on their website.
“The purpose of this has been to show people you can still keep control and the support I’ve received has been amazing. Diabetes is something I’ll have for the rest of my life but I can still do things that a lot of normal people won’t be able to.
“Hopefully the money I raise will help research and understanding of type 1 diabetes and how you cope with it.”
His fundraising page includes a message from Olympic icon and fellow-diabetes sufferer Sir Steve Redgrave, which said: “I would like to wish Gavin the best of luck with this sponsored run for Diabetes UK and JDRF, charities close to my heart. This indeed is a huge challenge and I hope Gavin succeeds as I am sure he will.”
And succeed Gavin did. Preparing for 30/30, which finished on May 26, had been his life since graduating from Greenwich University last summer. Now it is finished he hopes to carry on the fundraising with more crazy expeditions. He has even trained his eye on Beyond the Ultimate - four marathons in four continents back-to-back. Watch this space, the Diathlete is not finished yet.
For more information on Gavin’s challenge visit diathlete.org or his fundraising page at uk.virginmoneygiving.com/GBR3030.