By ROSALIND GRIFFITHS
MARATHON man Ertie Burgess is now back from running the New York Marathon.
The achievement is the culmination of his keep-fit efforts which started last year when Lerwick taxi driver Ertie, 48, took part in the programme featured in The Shetland Times and sponsored by Shetland Recreational Trust. He has now lost three stone and raised more than £8,000 for charity.
Former couch potato Ertie, then more than 20 stone, used to go home after driving all day and lie on the sofa. Once on the exercise regime, however, he managed to shed several stone and started watching his diet.
As he became fitter he began to dream of raising money for charity. One of his daughters had suffered the worst form of meningitis, meningicoccal septicaemia (though thankfully she made a full recovery) and he had always wanted to “do something” for the Meningitis Research Foundation.
He started running, and although he had never done a long distance he applied to take part in the New York Marathon.
A long training regime followed which involved training five nights a week and running on Sundays.
Eventually, at a weight of 17 and a half stone, he was ready for action. At one time he could not run 200 metres – now he was confident enough to put himself through a gruelling five-hour slog.
Now back from New York, Ertie said the sheer scale of the marathon was unbelievable, with more than 30,000 runners and two million people lining the 26-mile route. In addition there were 120 bands playing on a cool Shetland-type of day, dry and cold which made running easier.
Ertie, who took in a helicopter ride and a visit to the Empire State Building while in the Big Apple, said: “You can’t believe the size of it. The crowd kept me going.” He finished in just over his target time of five hours. He is still waiting to hear his final position: “I wasna’ first and I wasna’ last.”
Now, he said: “I can’t believe I’ve done it and I’ve got so fit in such a short time. It’s been a life change and I’ve never been on a diet.” He wants to thank The Shetland Times and Clickimin for starting him on the path to fitness, he said.
Now he is looking for another marathon to run and fancies Berlin, which apparently is flatter and therefore easier than the New York run, which took in several fairly steep bridges “like going up Staney Hill with a load of concrete”.
He is definitely running a half marathon in April: “I want to keep having goals.”
And just to remind him not to slip back into his old habits, he keeps a photo of his unfit self on the fridge door.
Ertie has now received nearly £9,000 in donations to the Meningitis Research Foundation.