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Posted on: 4th May 2018

Marathon Heroes Doubled Dutch

There was double cause for celebration at Open Road when not one but two amazing men offered to run marathons for us. First out of the blocks on 8th April was Royal Marine Commando, Dave Fort, who completed the Netherland’s Rotterdam Marathon in an amazing four hours. Over the water at the London Marathon, Chris Hopkins, from Chelmsford, paced himself through the very hot weather to successfully cross the line in just over 5 hours.

Dave, shown here ready to leave home for the big event, has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is currently based in Holland on a military exchange with the Dutch Marines. ‘I had wanted to run a marathon for a long time and discovered that the route of the Rotterdam Marathon goes right past my house. So there was no further excuse – this was the Marathon for me! I decided I wanted to help people who suffer with addiction, something which blighted my family with tragic results.  My brother, Ashley, had a long battle with drugs and alcohol, and he had been in and out of prison numerous times. He managed to stay sober for short periods but relapsed and ultimately lost his battle with the disease in 2011 aged just 26. I searched for charities in Essex, where we grew up, and found Open Road. Open Road does amazing work with those who need support and deserve a chance at recovery and I am very pleased to have raised over £1,200 from generous colleagues, family and friends. Thanks too to my Army boss who funded a pair of top quality running shoes.’ Lucky for Dave then, that Dutch clogs were not obligatory for the Rotterdam event! Although his legs were ‘slightly stiff’ the following day, Dave says he intends to run the same marathon again next year for Open Road, and has set himself a much faster target time of 3 hours 30mins.

Chelmsford’s Chris, was inspired to make Open Road his chosen charity by the SOS Buses which operate in Colchester and Chelmsford on weekend nights. ‘Their work relieves pressure on an already-stretched emergency services and I’ve seen the negative effect the night-time economy can have on my home town. I’m in awe of this service which is staffed entirely by volunteers who turn up every weekend to offer a safe haven, medical support and dispute resolution. I had already completed five half marathons and finally got lucky and secured a ballot place for this year’s London Marathon. It was my biggest challenge yet.’ 

Chris raised an amazing £1,053 which will go towards keeping the SOS buses on the road. Chris, shown here with his medal added, ‘The start was very nice and quite relaxed but even at 10.00am, I was sweating before I'd crossed  the start line, so I knew I'd have to keep it slow to make  it round. Crossing the line was emotional! The crowd on the last mile and a half were incredible. I’m so glad I did it, and I can't wait to do it again, although the whole experience feels tempered by the news that one runner died taking part, someone that was relatively healthy and young. 

Thanks to our heroes - Dave, Chris - and all marathon runners on both sides of the North Sea who have made so much sacrifice and effort to run for their good causes in 2018.