JUST four years ago, detective constable Adam Blake would have recoiled at the mere thought of exercise, let alone a marathon.
At 18 stone and on reactive shifts, he struggled to avoid junk food. Having two children made it a struggle to find time to get any fitness in.
But later this month, just weeks before his 50th birthday, Adam will take on his first London Marathon and is currently clocking up 100 miles a month in training.
Adam’s transition from sofa to running track began in March 2015 when he was invited to join his Thorpe Wood colleagues for the weekly Peterborough Park Run.
As of today he has taken part in 114 park runs and describes himself as “obsessed.”
Looking forward to the marathon, which he will run in aid of the UK Police Roll of Honour, he said: “I’m not nervous at all. It’s going to be very painful but to have the opportunity to run in the biggest marathon in the world in my 50th year, and to raise money for a worthy cause, will get me round.”
Adam’s introduction to running was aided by an app that encourages users to go from ‘couch to 5k’ in a number of weeks. He took part in the park run every Saturday morning and began to lose weight, eventually dropping to 14 stone.
“The first time I ran I had to walk a number of times,” Adam recalled. “The park runs are 5k but when you’re just starting out it feels a lot further.
“You could say I caught the bug. I brought myself new trainers, a running watch and all the gear, and then joined Yaxley Runners, who are a great bunch of like-minded people. I felt comfortable because there were fast and slow runners, like me, and everyone cheers you on no matter what your standard is. You run and that’s good enough.”
Adam started to enter local club races, starting with 10k. He took part in his first half marathon in October 2015, alongside other officers from Thorpe Wood, raising money for Cancer Research.
“The thought of going around again to complete a full marathon wasn’t something I could contemplate. But in April 2018 I did what my mind was telling me I couldn’t do and completed a marathon. It was a great experience – 26 miles of mind games – but I did it.
“I remember saying at the end I wouldn’t run another marathon unless it was the big one: London.”
Later that month Adam applied for a place in the London Marathon, alongside 414,168 other runners. In October 2018 he was surprised to find himself offered a ballot place, and is now preparing to take part in the event on April 28, just weeks before his 50th birthday.
“A ballot place means you’re not required to raise any money to run, but after raising money for Cancer Research I wanted to do it again, but this time for a smaller charity that’s close to my heart,” said Adam.
“I wanted to run for a police charity. I did some research and after reading about the National Police Roll of Honour Trust and speaking to David Acheson MBE, the trust secretary, I felt this was the one.”
National Police Officers Roll Of Honour is a trust that was founded in 2000, paying tribute to some 5,000 British police officers who have been killed or died, on duty or as a result of duty, since the first recorded death on duty of a constable in 1680.
The roll commemorates their sacrifice in the public service and provides a focal point and visible means for family and friends to reflect on the loss of their loved ones, knowing that their loss is not forgotten.
They ensure newly-discovered and future losses are also recorded.
“Training for the marathon has been hard but with the help of my friends it’s gone to plan. It’s not about a finishing time for me, it’s about the experience that will stay with me for many years,” said Adam.
Mr Acheson, the trust secretary, said: “Adam is the first person to ever run a marathon for us. His kind offer is warmly received and we’re very grateful for his support.
“Despite being the official source of the UK Police Roll of Honour, the charity does not receive any Government, public or central funding and relies entirely on the support of people like Adam. We wish him all the best throughout his training and of course on the day of the marathon.”
Adam will take part in the marathon on 28 April under the number 5140. His progress can be tracked by entering this number on the London Marathon app.
Adam is raising money through donations on his Just Giving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adam-blake7