|Little more than six months ago, Chris Ryan was in a hospital ward receiving treatment for Covid-19. Hooked up to oxygen, he was under no illusion that the force with which the virus had hit him was at least in part down to the unhealthy life he had been leading through lockdown.
Once a keen runner, with multiple Great North Runs under his belt, it was a challenge when the physio tasked him with walking from his bed in the ward he shared with two other patients, to the bathroom and back. It was 10 metres in all.
Now, he’s days away from running 1,000 times that distance when he tackles the Kielder 10k as part of Active Northumberland Kielder Marathon weekend.
Chris, 55, from Forest Hall, said: “When I got ill, my sense of smell was fine, but I didn’t eat for a week, I was exhausted. When my son took me to the Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital in Cramlington he thought I had cancer because of how bad I looked.
“I was put on oxygen and had quite a high level of support. The team at the hospital were fantastic and really looked after me.
“What gave me focus was regaining my general health. I’d been working from home, and I fell into the trap of working longer hours during the week and doing even more on a weekend. I wasn’t running. I was getting out of bed, plonking myself down at a computer and working long hours, not eating properly.
“What I want to help people understand is how important it is just to be healthy. People living good lifestyles and looking after themselves, that’s how we are going to get healthier and build up our immune systems.
“Getting healthier and going from struggling to go to the bathroom and back in hospital to doing the Kielder 10k, having just done the Great North Run, is really exciting for me and I’m just thrilled to be back running.”
The Active Northumberland Kielder Marathon is run by Events of the North, a company led by Olympians Steve Cram and Allison Curbishley, supported by event hosts Northumbrian Water, as well as Northumberland County Council, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, and Active Northumberland.
Steve Cram said: “It’s great to see Chris embracing a healthy lifestyle and recognising the benefits this can bring for us all, and not just at times like these when we have all been dealing with a global pandemic.
“This is why I’m so excited about this year’s Active Northumberland Kielder Marathon – it’s about getting back out there, embracing exercise, facing our own individual challenges, and doing so with likeminded, enthusiastic people around us.”
Dr Rob Whittle, head of critical care at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “It’s great news to hear that Chris has recovered enough to take on one of the events at Kielder this weekend. It is no surprise to me that he is complimentary about the care provided by our hard-working staff at the Northumbria.
“His message about maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to avoid the worst impacts of ill health is an important one. We take our commitment to supporting public health and wellbeing very seriously, demonstrated by the fact that we were selected for the national Active Hospitals pilot to promote physical activity to benefit both patients and staff.”
Mark Warnes, Chief Executive of Active Northumberland said: “A huge reason for the popularity of the weekend is that there are a range of events for all ages, which makes taking part achievable to so many people.
“Whatever your motivation for taking part – whether you’ve set yourself a physical challenge or perhaps you are raising money for a good cause, we wish you all the very best of luck.”
Northumberland County Councillor, Jeff Watson, Cabinet Member for Health Lives, said: “It’s fantastic that this flagship event, set against the stunning backdrop of Kielder Water, is able to go ahead this year. We send our warmest welcome to the competitors and spectators and hope they enjoy all that this beautiful part of our county has to offer.”
Entries close today (September 29) for the races across the Active Northumberland Kielder Marathon, including the Marathon itself, the Half Marathon, Run Bike Run, 10k and Junior Races. Visit www.kieldermarathon.com to find out more.