Gareth Elwick is fundraising for Macmillan by taking part in Scotland’s largest closed-road cycle sportive following 66 miles around spectacular Loch Ness on 28 April 2024. He’s raising money in memory of his friend Gareth White who sadly died from bowel cancer. Gareth’s journey to being active started following the sad loss of his 5-year old nephew in December 2022. Read Gareth’s story, to find out more about his challenges.

“Known by many as G, or when compared to me Big G (with me being little G), we had been friends since our college years some 25 years ago.

“Needless to say, my life and many of those who loved him was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 bowel cancer. Gareth remained positive, buoyant and larger than life throughout his treatment. He even returned to cycling throughout this time, where he would achieve some temporary escapism. Therefore, as we enjoyed his stag do in Edinburgh just 3 years prior to his devastating death, I thought it fitting to do a cycle challenge in Scotland (around Loch Ness) to honour his memory and raise money for Macmillan.

“My journey towards becoming more active only really began in January 2023, following the devastating loss of my 5 year old nephew Elliott to Rhabdomyosarcoma (an aggressive form of cancer) in December 2022. Elliott would self report as being ‘5 and three quarters’ and was extremely active until his untimely death. He was very keen to learn to cycle and 1 week previous to his death he went indoor climbing with a much loved school teacher (Ms Pena) where he proceeded to spend a lot of time talking about ‘Unkle Gareth’ whilst hanging on and making his way up the wall.

“It is safe to say Elliott was obsessed with superheros and very keen to learn to ride a bike independently. Following his passing, I approached his father Chris (my brother in-law) with a proposal to combine both in order to honour his memory with a cycle ride, for which we would dress in spiderman costumes, and to support research and treatment for Rhabdomyosarcoma via his own arc Elliotts Arc (a subsidiary of Alice’s Arc).

“Prior to this, I freely acknowledge that I was no athlete, not built for fitness and my weight had increased to 13 and half stone, following comfort eating myself through 2 devastating bereavements in quick succession. This would however change, with an 80 mile planned cycle event in 5 months time in between Elliott’s favourite local seaside locations, Chapel St Leonard and Old Hunstanton.”

“I had no bike for the required weekly increasing distance training. However, I was lent one by a close friend (which I further used for the event) and proceeded to increase my cycling distances on a weekend basis by between 5 and 10 miles, until I reached the 70 mile point. During this time, I proceeded to lose in excess of a stone in weight. However I also experienced setbacks when I proceeded to fall from the bike feet clipped in and fracture my radius.”

Conditions for the event itself were perfect and the ride was extremely enjoyable. Bit of a cliché, but in being active outdoors provided an alternative focus, and temporary respite from the pain of bereavement whilst also providing a sense of an increased connection to both Elliott and Gareth respectively at this time. 

“Following the bike event, I promptly signed up to do the Oxford Half Marathon (October 23) in support of,  and to raise funds for, the Children’s Hospice who cared for Elliott. Due to issues with my knees weekly training mostly consisted of increasing distance walks. However I managed to complete the half in just over 2 and half hours.”

“Most recently, in January 24, I have completed 30 miles for Prostate UK’s Marathon Month, as part of a team of 5 school friend who recently reconnected after a 25 year hiatus.

I intend to continue to keep active, however will not be doing any further sponsored events,  as feel I cannot ask further on friends and family fantastic generosity and support. For me physical activity and outdoors provides some temporary escapism, connects me to the loved ones I have lost, makes my children proud, whilst also making me fitter and healthier for my children.

Next on my agenda will be the UK 3 Peaks and the West Highland Way hike in Scotland. However, my people can stand down as I won’t be rallying for future charity sponsors.”

If you want to support Gareth’s fundraising effort you can donate on the following Just Giving page:

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