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Pedal power! But not as we know it

Sandwell | | Published:

He has crossed the line in more than 60 marathons and raised thousands of pounds for charity – now former running man Glyn Marston has taken up a new challenge.

A knee injury forced the sports fanatic to give up racing on his own legs.He explains how a failed attempt to compete at the London Marathon on stilts last year after previous efforts to use a wheelchair led him to take up the ellipitigo – a stand up cycle described as a cross trainer on wheels.

It was invented in the United States by a former runner who did not like cycling or gym workouts. So he and a friend created a running device that they could ride on the street based on the design of a normal cross trainer machine.

"I had checked with the London Marathon organisers if it was all right to take part on the stilts and had started the training because they gave me the all clear. Then about three weeks before the race they looked into the stilts that I'd got and said the design had the capability to run at 25mph and jump 7ft.

Glyn Marston, of New Invention, who climbed Mont Revard in the French Alps on his stand up cycle

"At my age and with my knee problems I wouldn't have been able to move at those speeds anyway. Most of the top athletes complete marathons at times of about 2hrs:10min. They appeared to be concerned that I would have an advantage over the elite runners who were taking part so I wasn't allowed to do it.

"While there I went to some of the events put on as part of the marathon weekend and met someone with one of these ellipitigo machines. I bought it straight away. I still like running, but my knee can't do it and I've had an operation and was given a new one so I have to protect it.

"I have tried going to the gym, but it's not really my thing so I thought this would be better for me. When I gave up running after damaging my knee I put lots of weight on so I needed to find a way to exercise. I ran my last marathon in 2006," he says.

For a while the former Pool Hayes Community school pupil, used a wheelchair for races after doctors warned he would be wheelchair bound if he carried on distance events.

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Glyn completed 65 marathons and 45 ultra-distance races, varying from 32 to 153 miles, after taking up running in 1993.

Just this summer the 52-year-old, of Willenhall, completed the Elliptigo European Championships in Aix-Les-Bains in the French Alps. He tackled a 13-mile race up Mont Revard on his stand up cycle. Of the 85 who took part only four of the competitors were English.

He completed the course in 3hrs:58mins. But it took him just 34 minutes to cruise back down the mountain on his bike – showing just how steep the climb was. He also earned ranking points in the world league table by taking part in the championships.

"It was really tough but I enjoyed it and I hope to take part next year. It's 13 miles uphill all the way."

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"I use the elliptigo regularly. I do get quite a bit of attention. People point at it and make comments about what they think it is. It is very popular in some countries and very big in the US," he adds.

He now plans to ride it from John O'Groats, in Scotland, to Land's End, in Cornwall, next June in aid of the charity Cancer Research UK in support of friends and family members who have undergone the illness.

Glyn, of Essington Road, New Invention, has twice previously completed the distance on bicycles.

Among his achievements was being named an Express & Star Local Hero in recognition of the money he has raised for The National Autistic Society. He also took part in a treadmill challenge which saw him run more than 300 miles over seven days in the window of London sports shop Lilywhites in Piccadilly Circus in 2005 to help promote the British Wheelchair Racing Association. He used a wheelchair was fixed to a special roller.

In 2012 he was lucky enough to be chosen to be among the first people to run round the track at the Olympic park in London after being nominated by his family.

More recently he set up one of the first dodgeball clubs in the region, the Walsall Warriors. Due to popular demand the club is now poised to expand its operations with the launch of a separate adults' team that will be known as the Black Country Knights based at Portway Lifestyle Centre, in Oldbury. They train in Wednesdays from 7pm at the site.

The Walsall Warriors is now a junior team and will remain at the CHART Centre, in Gomer Street, Willenhall, training on Thursdays from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. Up to 28 youngsters are registered there.

Glyn, who has two grown up children Louise, aged 28, and Liam,aged 23, is also the proud grandfather of Zack, aged 18 months.

He also gets to play dodgeball for Wales because his grandmother was Welsh. Proving there is no stopping this running man.

See also: Unsung stars in limelight at Black Country Sport and Physical Activity awards.

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