Olympic duo back Ferndale's backwards London Marathon challenge
He’s no stranger to taking on tough challenges for the Lord’s Taverners but Michael Ferndale’s latest challenge has left those close to him shocked – he’s planning to run the London Marathon backwards!
Most find the 26-mile challenge daunting enough. However, armed with some top tips from Olympic gold medal winning rowing duo Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins (experts at competing whilst travelling backwards!), the London-based City head-hunter has decided to tackle the streets of London while looking over his shoulder.
“I’ve not seen it done before, so I thought I should give it a go,” explained the Lord’s Taverners member who has already run the marathon for the UK’s leading youth cricket and disability sports charity, completing the gruelling Marathon des Sables in the North African desert last year.
“I remember speaking to some friends after a Lord’s Taverners dinner and they asked me if I was planning to run London this year. But having already done that I thought I should up the ante a bit!
“Someone suggested running it backwards and the idea stuck. It was something that seemed a good idea at the time but the reality sets in when you realise that you actually have to do it. The general reaction from people has been that I am a bit mad, but others have been very supportive and I’ve had plenty of backwards jokes!”
Although he’s an experienced challenge event participant, his training for the event has thrown up a few unexpected surprises – but he’s also had some advice from London 2012 gold medallists Grainger and Watkins.
“We’ve both run the marathon forward which was hard enough,” said Grainger, “so we have massive respect for Michael for taking on this challenge. I know that we have spent most of our lives going backwards, but when I walk and I run I tend to go forwards and I like it that way. It’s a massive challenge and hopefully people will dig deep to raise money for a great cause. Good luck Michael, you are confirmed as being crazy.”
Watkins added: “Hopefully everyone will dig deep and support Michael and for everyone who is out on the roads training, please look out – don’t bump into him!”
“Katherine and Anna gave me some good advice as they are used to competing backwards, so that was a big help,” added Ferndale. “The London Marathon staff wanted me to practice to make sure I wasn’t going to be a danger to myself or other runners so I competed in the Silverstone half marathon which went well.
“You can’t do too much training for this so I’ve been keeping myself pretty fit and practising where I can. I found at Silverstone that it is very hard on the calf and glute muscles and I also ran out of energy so I might need to stop for lunch on the way around! I also felt seasick, which is something I didn’t expect.”
But is he looking forward to the big day?
He explained: “It’s one of those challenges where I think the best thing is to not think too much about it in advance and just turn up on the day and get on with it. But it’s for a great cause to raise money to give disadvantaged and disabled young people a sporting chance and I’ll just be delighted to finish in one piece before they open the roads again!”
You can support Michael with his challenge by donating here.