‘AT 37st I THOUGHT MY LIFE WAS OVER’

Wales On Sunday - - NEWS - LAURA CLE­MENTS Re­porter laura.cle­ments@waleson­line.co.uk

IN May 1982, Chris Larkin ran the first-ever Welsh marathon. His time – four hours and 52 min­utes – wasn’t great but it wasn’t too bad ei­ther. Aged 23, and weigh­ing around 13st, he was nat­u­rally fit.

Yes, he ate rub­bish food but, what t with weekly squash matches, club b cy­cling at the week­end, and oc­ca­sional run­ning, he kept the weight off and lived life to the full.

To­day, Chris is mak­ing plans to run n his sec­ond marathon. Weigh­ing in at

s 27st, Chris won’t be ready un­til at least 2022. But when he does, he wants to smash his 1982 time.

Even more im­pres­sive, though, is the fact that, only two years ago, Chris was 10st heav­ier. His weight had shot up to 37st. For now, he has taken on per­haps an even more daunt­ing chal­lenge – do­ing 100km through the sum­mer as part of the Run­ning Down De­men­tia cam­paign for Alzheimer’s Re­search UK. Ex­cept Chris isn’t run­ning it: he is swim­ming it.

He is due to com­plete the chal­lenge on Fri­day, with a fi­nal 2km sea swim be­tween Boscombe Pier and Bournemouth Pier.

But just how does some­one go from run­ning marathons to be­ing so heavy?

“It just creeps up on you,” Chris said. “By the mid-90s, I was get­ting heav­ier and heav­ier. I was work­ing as a sales rep and ba­si­cally eat­ing out of a petrol sta­tion all the time.

“The scary thing is, you can eas­ily put on a pound over a month. ”

Chris mar­ried and he and his first wife had two chil­dren. He car­ried on pil­ing on the pounds.

In 2001, he met his sec­ond wife, Karen, on the in­ter­net. Orig­i­nally from Bos­ton, USA, Karen mar­ried Chris in 2004. By 2006, he passed 30st. Even nor­mal ac­tiv­i­ties were a strug­gle.

Cou­pled with chronic back pain, Chris’ life was re­duced to driv­ing to work and walk­ing the eight paces from his car to the of­fice.

“Work­ing as a de­signer, I had no need or rea­son to leave my chair. Af­ter a day in front of the lap­top, I would pack up

and drive home again” again.” His com­mute usu­ally in­volved a stop to grab a curry on the way home.

“I couldn’t get off the couch, and I was too heavy for surgery,” Chris re­mem­bered. “I reached my heav­i­est weight in June 2016 – 37st. I thought my life was over, it was aw­ful.”

With both chil­dren liv­ing away from his home in Swansea – daugh­ter Sa­man­tha in Carlisle and son Richard in Korea – Chris de­cided to turn things around.

Au­dra Fel­lows was a sup­plier to Rexel, where Chris worked, but was also a nu­tri­tion­ist and fit­ness in­struc­tor. She told Chris he should lose weight and bet him £100 he wouldn’t be able to lose three stone in three months.

Chris took up the bet and so be­gan his “trans­for­ma­tion jour­ney”.

Gone were the break­fasts in greasy spoon cafes, and lunchtime pit-stops at petrol sta­tions. In came cau­li­flower rice and turkey ba­con.

“The other thing that re­ally helped was drink­ing wa­ter,” said Chris, who now drinks around five litres ev­ery day.

He lost nine stone in a year. But, de­spite the loss, Chris was no more mo­bile than be­fore.

In Oc­to­ber 2017 he saw an ad for peo­ple look­ing to lose weight. He replied straight away and be­fore he knew it was launched into the world of Beach­body – a US fit­ness and nu­tri­tion craze.

“I have learnt to live again,” he said. “I started com­ing to the Vil­lage Gym in Swansea. A year ago, I would never have done that.

“Within only a few months I lost around 30 inches from my body. My s el f - be­lief f went up.” up”

Un­til March 2018 Chris was power-walk­ing up to 5km a day on the tread­mill. As the weight dropped off, Karen and Chris could start go­ing for walks to­gether.

Due to a knee in­jury, he’s now taken up swim­m­ming, and de­cided to take up the Run­ning Down De­men­tia ntia chal­lenge. He added 30km to the to­tal, just for “an ex­tra chal­lenge”. ”.

“I orig­i­nally planned to do o 100km, but then some­body sug­gested ted that it was maybe too much for me. That was like a red rag to a bull.”

The char­ity is close to his s heart as he lost both his par­ents to Alzheimer’s. heimer’s.

This is why, twice a day, y, start­ing at 6am and 6pm, Chris is in the he pool at the gym. He has around 10km to go.

Chris con­tacted Au­dra Fel­lows, to claim his win­nings from their bet. He do­nated it straight to the cause. So far he has raised more than £700 for the Alzheimer’s Re­search UK char­ity. har­ity.

Ju­lia So­bik, se­nior sport­ing rt­ing events and part­ner­ships man­ager r at the char­ity, said: “We are in awe of Chris and his amaz­ing weight-loss jour­ney. ney. He and the thou­sands of peo­ple tak­ing ak­ing part in Run­ning Down De­men­tia are strik­ing a blow in the bat­tle against de­men­tia.” emen­tia.”

Af­ter his swim chal­lenge, e, Chris aims to lose an­other 10 stone and nd get ready for a re­turn to marathons.

To spon­sor Chris go to t https:// htt // r u n n i n g d o w n d e me n t i a 2 0 1 8 . ev­ery­day­hero.com/uk/chris-17 to

Chris Larkin has lost more than 10st and aims to com­plete a 130km swim chal­lenge for char­ity this week. In­set, Chris at his most over­weight

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