Gary Morton: The Marathon Man

Gary Morton - Running in his final marathon in aid of Clatterbridge Cancer Charity

The only marathon I would think to do for 31 days would probably include Netflix or moustache growth. But meeting a man who’s just completed 31 marathons in 31 days to raise money for charity truly captures your imagination when it comes to endurance, will and motivation.

He chose to attempt the challenge after his Mother-in-Law Gillian Walker, 62, was diagnosed with skin cancer over four years ago that spread to her Liver, Lung and Kidneys.

The family feared the worst after it spread throughout her body, but the Clatterbridge Care Centre provided Gillian with a new treatment, Immunotherapy. Towards the middle of June this year, after 12 difficult weeks, it had shrunk the cancer to virtually nothing.

Gary went home with his wife Lindsay, 38, and decided he wanted to give something back. He then set the target of raising £30,000 for The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity.

Gary unfortunately lost his mum at the age of 16 and used this as a catalyst for his ambition and will to complete the challenge.

For his Mother-in-Law he wanted to do something with the ‘wow’ factor as he revealed: “with it being my wife’s mum and what happened during my childhood, it was a massive driver for me and I have more ambition and drive to succeed because of that.”

The marathon man initially completed Ironman competitions and then moved on to triathlons in his early 30’s as he enjoyed the ‘3 disciplines’. He swam The English Channel in aid of Motor Neurones Disease in 2014 raising over £30,000.

One year later he set out from the Marble Arch in London running to Dover, swimming The Channel again to Calais and finished by cycling to the Arc in Paris to raise awareness for giving blood. He did the latter as a team and broke the World record for the Arch 2 Arch in a time of 33 hours. Instead of raising money they wanted people to donate blood instead, in which they achieved more than 5000 pints – the team ironically named ‘The Blood Brothers’.

After speaking with nutritionists and bulking his calorie intake to 8000 a day he also had to train harder for his mission. 13 miles a day for 13 days then 18 miles a day for 18 days. He revealed he brought the challenge forward from November to October as he felt he was ready and needed to ‘execute it’.

 

Gary started the challenge on September 29th. He would wake up at 2.45AM without fail and set off at 3.30AM, this was so he could make it into work for his nine-to-five job at DW as Head of Buying.

His marathon running averaged out at around 4 hours and 3 minutes and was accompanied by an ice bath and hot bath before and after each run, every day.

During the run Gary got shin splints which were cause him agony. He said: “I finished that day on four hours and 50 minutes, it drove me mental”. At this point it was inspiring to see how Gary persevered and recalled how much help his support network was at the time.

“I thought what I am going to do, I was in absolute agony. I Rang Lindsay and heard the boys Dominic, 11, and Albie, 6, in the background and I broke down. Without her support at that point to will me on I’m not sure how I would’ve done it – her support was massive for me” he added.

The half-way point was a massive boost for Gary as he revealed: “From that point I’m counting down not up. Seeing people on a live stream watching around the world was unbelievable. The amount of people watching at that time was inspirational, a BBC article got 400,000 views, incredible.”

The support of his friends and family was ‘vital’ as he neared the end. Adrenaline took Gary over the last 3 days as he was joined by friends and son Dominic on his penultimate run. Capped by lapping the DW stadium and talking to Dave Whelan – a man he has devoted 20 years of service to through JJB and DW Sports positions who donated £5,000 alone to the charity.

The former Wigan Athletic chairman said: “Gary you’re 43 years of age now, don’t do anything like that again, enjoy your wife, enjoy life, it’s not good for your knees, it’s not good for your back, it’s not good for your body, no more crazy challenges.”

Gary smashed his target and raised over £43,000 for Clatterbridge Cancer Charity. He is still somehow running 10km a day until 4th January and he will have by then completed another milestone of running 10km a day for 365 days.

After completing the feat Lindsay said: “If it wasn’t for the funding and the money that people like Gary raise to go into cancer research, immunotherapy wouldn’t exist and it wouldn’t be able to work its magic on patients like my mum.”