As a double leg amputee, life is full of challenges, but that's never got in Richard Whitehead's way. Richard always dreamt of being able to run a marathon and in January 2004, he set himself the mother of all challenges. With the dream of being able to run, he entered the New York Marathon. When he sent off the application form he had zero running experience, he had never even run a single mile, never mind twenty-six.
Richard's training started that February. He began running mainly on treadmills in his local gym and then built up enough confidence to brave the open roads. Mainly running at night so as not to attract any attention, he began to experience the freedom of running outside. He was hooked. The New York Marathon in November 2004 was a life defining experience for Richard. The support he received from fellow runners and spectators took him to a different level - he finished his first marathon in 5 hours 18 minutes with thousands of people urging him to the finish line.
Richard wants to make a difference. To prove that even though he has a disability, he has overcome barriers that have been put in front of him.
Since that first marathon in 2004 Richard has run more than a dozen marathons, not to mention competing at the 2006 Winter Paralympic Games in sledge hockey. In 2009, he became the first leg amputee (single or double) to break the three hour mark for a marathon, a world record he has now lowered to 2 hours, 42.54 minutes. He also broke the half marathon world record with an incredible run of 1 hour, 14.14 minutes.
In the 2013 New Year's Honours, Richard was awarded a MBE.
Richard's aspirations are far bigger than just winning races. He wants to make a difference. To prove that even though he has a disability, he has overcome barriers that have been put in front of him. Following gold medals at the IPC World Championships and Anniversary Games (200m T42), Richard completed the challenge of a lifetime – running 40 marathons in 40 days, from John O'Groats to Land's End. He ran a total of 977 miles for his two chosen charities, Scope and Sarcoma UK.