ONE of the keep fit group featured in The Shetland Times last year is to run in the New York Marathon.
Lerwick taxi driver Arthur Burgess, known as Ertie, volunteered to take part in an exercise programme sponsored by Shetland Recreational Trust and his progress was reported weekly.
Formerly an unfit 20 stone, Ertie, 47, embraced his fitness regime with gusto. The self-confessed couch potato, who used to go home from his sedentary job to lie on the sofa, shed several stone by going to the gym. He also became more conscious of his diet.
Even after the programme ended he kept exercising, and began to dream of running a marathon.
Ertie, who is 6ft 3in, had always wanted to raise money for charity – one of his daughters had suffered the worst form of meningitis, meningicoccal septicaemia, 10 years ago, and he had vowed that one day he would “do something” for the Meningitis Research Foundation.
Although he had never run a long distance before, he applied to run in the New York Marathon. When the organisers heard about his reason for doing it and about his keep fit efforts he was accepted straight away.
Ertie started running while still on the fitness programme and started training seriously for November’s marathon four weeks ago. He now has a gruelling schedule which involves training five days a week. On Tuesday he goes “spinning” on a stationary exercise bike, on Wednesday he goes for a six-mile run, on Thursday he trains with weights and on Friday he goes for a seven-mile run. He then has a well-deserved rest before a longer run on Sunday, which this week was 12 miles.
As the New York Marathon is on a Sunday he has reserved his biggest runs for this day, and will build up his distance by two miles every week until he reaches 22 miles. It is not considered necessary to run the 26 miles of a marathon in training.
Ertie, now 17 and a half stone, said: “It’s getting easier and I’m building up my stamina. Running 12 miles was the distance of a half marathon and it wasn’t a problem. I could run the 12 miles without stopping, I was up the Quarff hills and up Sound brae. I did it in two hours eight minutes. I work with a heart monitor and if I think it’s too much I slow down a bit.”
He expects to do the New York Marathon in around four and a half hours, although the time, he said, was not important. “As long as I don’t get any injuries I’ll be ok.”
Ertie’s life now is very different from when he started the fitness programme. “I would never have done this [the marathon] without the keep fit programme last year. I couldn’t run 200 metres then – if I did I’d be completely out of breath.
“I set myself a goal and it kept me focused. When I finish this marathon I’ll do something next year.
“I’d like to lose another stone but it’s difficult because I have to eat to get energy. I’m not on a special diet, I still have a fish supper and a Chinese, you canna stop that, but I eat half of what I used to and I watch what I eat.”
Ertie will leave Shetland at the end of October and run the marathon on 2nd November. He has put out sponsor sheets and approached businesses for support and has raised £3,500 so far. If anyone would like more information or would like to help him they should go the the website www.justgiving.com/arthurburgess
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The Shetland Times is looking for volunteers for a new exercise programme to be run in conjunction with SRT over the winter months. If anyone is interested, they should contact editor Paul Riddell on (01595) 746715 or firstname.lastname@example.org