Run­ning To Re­mem­ber

Meet the man run­ning 2,000 miles in mem­ory of his son

Runner's World (UK) - - In This Issue -

Lewis Key­wood is run­ning 2,000 miles in mem­ory of his son

‘ THE PAIN OF RUN­NING a race is noth­ing com­pared with the pain of losing a child’, says Lewis Key­wood, ‘but it’s my way of hon­our­ing my son’s mem­ory.’ This year, that’s ex­actly what the 30-year-old is do­ing, by run­ning 2,000 miles for the baby char­ity Tommy’s. Lewis knows first­hand the sup­port that Tommy’s pro­vides. In 2010, he and his then-wife lost their son, Yolki – he was still­born five months into the preg­nancy – and Tommy’s pro­vided much-needed coun­selling and sup­port.

While Lewis de­scribes the ex­pe­ri­ence of losing his son as ‘the low­est of low points’, the tragedy

also led him to trans­form his life­style. ‘Be­fore I lost my son, I weighed over 17 stone and worked in a job I hated,’ says Lewis, who’s now a per­sonal trainer. ‘Car­ry­ing his cof­fin at the fu­neral was the hard­est thing I have ever had to do, but I de­cided to use Yolki’s death as a cat­a­lyst for change.’

For Lewis, who had run a lit­tle at school but was now lead­ing a seden­tary life­style, this meant lac­ing up his run­ning shoes once more. He trained for a 5K race, rais­ing money for Tommy’s, and quickly be­gan to shed the ex­cess weight. More than im­prov­ing his phys­i­cal health, how­ever, run­ning was help­ing him to deal with the emo­tional dis­tress of losing a child. ‘It’s the most ther­a­peu­tic thing I’ve done,’ he says. ‘If you go out for an hour run, you come back and feel a lit­tle bit bet­ter about your­self and your sit­u­a­tion. Run­ning has been a mas­sive help for me in that re­spect.’

The ther­a­peu­tic qual­i­ties of run­ning were par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant to Lewis as he had, he says, found it hard to grieve. ‘It’s an un­think­able sit­u­a­tion for any­one to have to face, but I found it es­pe­cially hard as a man. The woman car­ries the baby so, nat­u­rally, they feel a huge con­nec­tion. But I ended up feel­ing guilty: I just didn’t want to ad­mit that I was strug­gling, too. That’s why I’m now try­ing to reach out to dads who are af­fected by this. We need to talk and share sto­ries to un­der­stand that we’re not alone, and that both par­ents suf­fer when tragedies like this oc­cur.’

That mes­sage feels par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant when you con­sider that the UK has one of the high­est still­birth rates in the de­vel­oped world, and that re­cent sta­tis­tics sug­gest one in four preg­nan­cies end in mis­car­riage. ‘Think how many friends you have – every­one is likely to know some­one who’s been di­rectly af­fected by this,’ says Lewis. ‘This chal­lenge is all about rais­ing money and aware­ness for them.’

Although Lewis has com­pleted dozens of races on be­half of Tommy’s – from 5Ks to marathons – this year’s chal­lenge is on a much big­ger scale. To com­plete it, he needs to av­er­age al­most 10km a day. To help him in this quest, he’s run­ning marathons – in­clud­ing Lon­don ( he fin­ished in 3:41:25) and Ex­eter – and has signed up for his first ul­tra, the 100km Race to the Stones. ‘I’m now liv­ing in Devon and have some great trails along the Juras­sic Coast, so it’s the per­fect train­ing ground,’ says Lewis. ‘If the ul­tra goes well, me and a friend are plan­ning to run the length of the Thames [215 miles] in four days.’

Fit­ting in the train­ing and rac­ing, how­ever, is not easy. ‘I now oc­ca­sion­ally work 14-15-hour days, so when I get home the last thing I want to do is run,’ he says. ‘But it’s the same for a lot of peo­ple. I just know I can’t af­ford to take my foot off the gas, oth­er­wise I’ll leave my­self with too many miles to do.’

Along­side rais­ing money for Tommy’s, Lewis hopes his run­ning will of­fer a mes­sage of hope. ‘I want to show peo­ple that no mat­ter what’s hap­pened to them, they can change their life for the bet­ter,’ he says. ‘Be­fore I started run­ning, I was work­ing in air­port security, eat­ing junk food and not be­ing very ac­tive. I used to use the ex­cuse that I was too tired to do any­thing. But when I started run­ning, I made the time. I got up ear­lier and ran be­fore work, or planned runs into my week.

‘Every­one you speak to who isn’t a run­ner au­to­mat­i­cally says stuff like, “I’m not a run­ner; I couldn’t do it for this rea­son or that rea­son.” I used to think I was too fat to run, too. But, ac­tu­ally, any­one can run – even if it’s on a tread­mill for five min­utes. My mes­sage is this: give it a go – you’ll be sur­prised by what you can do.’

‘ IF YOU GO OUT FOR AN HOUR RUN, YOU COME BACK AND FEEL A LIT­TLE BIT BET­TER ABOUT YOUR­SELF AND YOUR SIT­U­A­TION’

FIND­ING A WAY Lewis Key­wood has gone from 17st junk-food fan to per­sonal trainer

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