11/11/2010Oliver defies the odds to complete GSR
When doctors told Oliver Rawlings to never run again after a series of bad sports injuries, he simply couldn't follow their advice.
BEFORE AND AFTER: Oliver Rowlings as he is now after Finishing the Bupa Great South Run (left) and as he was when 21 stones (right)
Two years later – and after losing eight stones in weight – he completed the 2010 Bupa Great South Run in under 90 minutes and said: "I loved the atmosphere; it was amazing. All the people running and all the spectators cheering made it one of the most memorable days of my life. I'm really proud to have been a part of it."
The 36-year-old from Hornchurch in Essex was forced to give up sport after rupturing tendons in both knee caps six years ago – and had swelled to over 21 stones by 2008.
That's when Oliver decided to take action and adopt a fitter and healthier lifestyle.
But he decided that running would have to feature if he was going to slim back down.
Oliver was a taking part in professional paintball tournaments when disaster struck and said: "I ruptured my left patella tendon when I slipped over on some mud – sounds silly I know, but it was agony – and spent two months in plaster then four months doing physio before I got back to the sport. The first time I played competitively again I ruptured the right patella tendon within about 45 minutes - same period of time for recovery again.
"After that, doctors advised me not to run because of the impact on my knee joints. When I first started to run there was a lot of pain and swelling. My father ruptured one of his patella tendons and has arthritis and has had to have both hips replaced, so they advised that I may just get the same issues sooner if I run.
"But I started doing some interval training on a treadmill with Steve Pell (a personal trainer I hired to help get me fit). Then I started running about 3km on the streets and loved it."
That was in 2008. He was soon running three times a week and clocking up 10 to 20 miles in the process.
Oliver, who works as a licensing officer, added: "I love running. It gives me time to think and is a great stress reliever. I've always liked to push myself and with running I can try to go a little bit faster and further each time if I want."
After losing an amazing eight stones in just over a year, Oliver decided to enter an event to keep his training focused – and he selected the Bupa Great South Run.
He said: "I choose the GSR as it is the premier 10 mile event in the UK. I thought it would be a great feeling to run the streets through all the spectators – and the event didn't disappoint.
The race went great and I felt strong all the way. When I entered the race I had never run 10 miles so wasn't sure how fast I'd be, so ended up in the green group and started a fair way back
- Oliver Rawlings
"I found it really hard to make my way through the slower runners for the first three or four miles otherwise I think I could have been faster. I wanted to do it in under 1:30 so when I scrapped in just under I was over the moon."
Oliver has already entered the 2011 Bupa Great South Run and plans to train hard over the winter – he has entered a series of trail runs to maintain his fitness – and adds: "I'm looking to be able to knock 15 minutes off my 2010 time for next year."
He and girlfriend Cat, who was there to cheer him on in Portsmouth, are also planning to sign up for the Bupa Great Manchester Run on 15 May 2011 and the Bupa Great North Run on 18 September 2011.
He says: "Ultimately I would love to complete a marathon. Cat is really getting into running too, having done a couple of events with me as part of my training. We run together whenever we can and she really wants to do the GSR next year too."
Oliver, who also used the 2010 Bupa Great South run to raise much-needed funds for a good cause, admits that the personal challenge of long-distance running really appeals to him.
He said: "Although I was raising money for the NSPCC, my real motivation was to prove something to myself. My friends and work colleagues ask me why I enter these events and it's because I'm never satisfied with myself; I'm always pushing. Cat describes me as driven and she says it's one of the things she loves about me."