‘AT 37st I THOUGHT MY LIFE WAS OVER’
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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