“I’m still fairly confident I can do it”: injured Sunderland army officer says ahead of London Marathon

Chris Collier is a Captain in the Army’s Parachute Regiment
Chris Collier is Captain in the Army’s Parachute Regiment

When Chris Collier ran the Great North Run in full riot gear last September, he thought he would take it a step further.

He decided to go for the full marathon in London in April and, to top it all, he chose to run in full riot gear again and attempt to achieve a new Guiness World Record.

Having run the London marathon three times before in traditional running kit, he felt confident about it.

Chris said: “I looked at it and I thought this is something I can train up to and it is well within my reach.”

The full riot gear consists of a helmet, visor, combat body armour, leg and arm guards, fireproof under-layer, military boots, riot shield and baton. It weighs a massive 18 kg altogether and the challenge was to get even tougher.

In January, Mr Collier broke his shoulder in a ski accident. His training had been held back for two months and his confidence was knocked.

He admits he considered giving up at one point: “Whereas I thought it was going to be quite an achievable challenge, now there are a lot more barriers.

“When the accident happened I went to my charity and I said ‘Look, I might have to rethink my strategy. I might end up doing it just in normal clothes.’ But I came back and had a surgery fairly quick and I’m actually slightly ahead of the curve when it comes to recovery. So I thought, why not?”

The 36-year-old is originally from Sunderland, but  lives with his family in North Yorkshire. The father-of-three describes himself as a “mad Sunderland fan” and says it is usually football that gets him back to the city.

Chris Collier and his daughter Abigail, 6, who suffers from coeliac disease
Chris Collier and his daughter Abigail, 6, who suffers from coeliac disease

Last year, his daughter Abigail, 6, was diagnosed with coeliac disease. The condition is a serious autoimmune disease caused by a reaction to gluten. There is no cure or medication for it – the only treatment is a lifelong, strict gluten-free diet.

This is why Mr Collier chose to run the marathon and raise funds for Coeliac UK.

Chris said: “They are constantly doing research for sufferers of the condition and every little penny which we can raise for this will…you know – hopefully one day she’ll live a normal life and eat and drink things normal kids do.

“As a parent, it’s been an immense challenge to get her to have the same quality of life as her friends.”

So far, he has raised £600 and hopes to reach £2,000 come the big day.

Although training with a broken shoulder has been “very challenging”, Mr Collier feels motivated:”I still have the confidence and the mindset to do it, because running a marathon is a 50% physical challenge but is 50% mental challenge.

“Only if you got the right mindset you can achieve these goals, I believe.

“That would be quite a good experience as well – just meeting like-minded people but also some quite famous people who dig into their pockets and help charities’ sponsorship”.

The London Marathon is considered to be one of the most prestigious in the world. It is 42,2 km long and more than 36 000 people take part in it every year.

The 36-year-old has already set his eyes on the next challenge: “I would love to be the sort of adventurer who climbs mountains and crosses Antarctica but I have three very young children and if I was to commit to these sort of expeditions, I’ll be away from my family a lot than I am already and it would be a huge challenge on them.

“So while they are still young I will do as close to home challenges as I can before I can go onto the more wild and crazy things in life, which I will do. I will end up climbing mountains and going to Antarctica, but when my kids are older and understand why I’m not there.”

To sponsor Mr Collier, click here.






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