On the surface, he may look like any other 48 year old office worker, but over the last four years Peter Alton has achieved something that goes far beyond what many of us would dare to even dream of. In 2010, this 6 foot tall, sixteen stone, forty five year old dad from Catherington near Portsmouth started training for his very first marathon. And, in December 2013, he successfully completed his 25th. That’s 25 marathons in the space of only 3 years!
Even for a well-seasoned athlete, that’s of a lot of lot of running; but for someone like Peter, who hadn’t run since his school days (when 400 metres seemed like a long run), it takes more than just training. It takes commitment, motivation and sheer grit and determination. But for Peter, it goes even deeper than that.
In 2008, Peter lost his Mum to breast cancer. At the time he was a non-runner and a self-confessed couch potato, but he decided that he was going to run to raise funds for Breakthrough Breast Cancer in memory of his Mum, who he describes as ‘a special lady who throughout her treatment was thinking of others.’
Once he started training, Peter realised that this was an ideal way to work through his grief. ‘Those long lonely training miles gave me time to think and focus on the future rather than the past,’ helping him to become stronger and fitter both physically and mentally.
That mental strength that he has gained has helped him enormously in his twenty five marathons. As a slow runner, Peter is always near the back of the pack, but when things get tough it’s his family and, in particular, his much loved Mum that help him through. ‘I got into the habit of dedicating each of the last few miles to my wife, my son and of course my Mum. I knew by doing this I wouldn’t give up.’ And, 25 marathons later, Peter is still going strong.
Not content with just running marathons, Peter is now training for the London 2 Brighton Challenge, a 100K (62 miles) walk, jog or run from Richmond in London to Brighton Race Course. While he claims that 100K might be his limit, he has said that about every distance that he has run, and is considering the possibility of trying a sprint triathlon or maybe even a full Iron Man. Either way, he says, ‘running has become part of my life and even though I am slow I am always proud to say I am a runner.’
Although he is not the fastest, and admits to being ‘always near the back of the field’, his determination has brought him through, helping him to raise over £4,000 for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. ‘They do great work searching for a cure and helping people and families suffering from this terrible disease. As a 16 stone 48 year old man, I am very proud to run in pink.’
‘I am not built like a typical runner and age is not on my side. Despite this I took the plunge and have achieved a great deal in under 4 years, so if I can do it anyone can. I hope than through running I have encouraged others to lace up their trainers. You do not have to run fast and you do not have to run far. The road ahead is always open’
To find out more about Peter’s fundraising journey and to donate to his campaign, please visit his JustGiving Page at http://www.justgiving.com/Peter-Alton.