Dilton Marsh resident Robin-Mark Schols has organised the Hilly Helmet Challenge to raise money for the charity Brain Tumour Support.
The cause is one close to Robin’s heart after undergoing surgery to remove a frontal lobe meningioma, a type of brain tumour, the size of a satsuma in 2009.
Recovering from surgery, Robin was inspired to take up a new hobby. “When I woke up from my op and found out I had another chance at life I looked at myself and realised I had to do something,” explained Robin.
“I was over 16 stone and hadn’t looked after myself. So I vowed to the staff at the hospital that I was going to get fit and show them they had not wasted their time saving my life.
“In addition to training in the house using a Nintendo Wii, I started to run a little. I figured it was cheap and the fresh air would help. I also changed my diet and lifestyle. By May I had reduced my weight to 11stone 7lbs.”
Encouraged by his progress, Robin joined a running club and started entering races across the country. “By 2015 I was smashing times like I never imagined possible. I ran the Bath half marathon in 81 minutes and at the London marathon I recorded a time of 2:53:21 to set a new club record for my age group at my running club; I was 53 at the time.”
Soon after the London marathon, Robin became unwell again with a brain infection and was told that he would need surgery. “The specialist was not very optimistic but after an operation to open me up and investigate, I was given hope (and antibiotics) and after a recovery period in hospital went home to recover.”
Surgeons had to remove part of Robin’s skull as it was badly infected, leaving him with a hole in his head. Until the hole in his skull could be repaired with a titanium plate, Robin had to wear a helmet everywhere he went, even on his runs.
“I had to stay off work but started to run gently as it was my little piece of normality amongst the madness of wearing a helmet everywhere I went, and the mockery that often went with it.”
Robin had his titanium plate fitted in June 2016 and soon returned to training. “I ran the London marathon this year just 10 months after the surgery, finishing in a time of 3 hours 11 minutes and raised money for Brain Tumour Support while doing so.”
Using his own experience of running with a helmet, Robin started planning the charity event earlier this year. “This helmet running event is an opportunity for other people to find out just how hard it was for me when I ran in my helmet, while also helping to raise money for the charity and awareness.”
The inaugural Hilly Helmet Challenge was a great success, raising over £2500 for Brain Tumour Support in 2017 and selling out over a week before the event date. It returns for it’s 4th running this year with more places available and takes place on Wednesday 12th August 2020 at 7pm, starting and finishing at the Leighton Recreation Centre in Westbury, Wiltshire. There will be prizes for the first male and female finishers and once again a special prize to the runner taking part wearing the best helmet in the opinion of the judges.