Dan Woodgate weighed 27st and lived on a diet of junk food and alcohol when the death of his Dad made him realise things had to change. Now ‘half the man’ Dan has changed his life forever.
Here he explains the part parkrun played in his incredible journey.
The death of my Dad, after a short illness in October 2016, triggered a change in me which even I have found quite unbelievable.
At the time I had two small children and I thought about my own mortality.
At my heaviest I was 27st, I had an awful diet of junk food and alcohol, and was pretty inactive. Things had to change.
I joined Slimming World in May 2017 and, after some great results, I wanted to enhance my weight loss by becoming active.
I joined Instagram (@half_the_man_dan) and noticed people talking about parkrun. I then realised there was one not too far from where I live. I duly registered and printed my barcode all ready to go and watch to see what exactly it was.
The day before, however, I knew watching wouldn’t lose any weight, so I prepared myself to take part.
It was August 2017 and my wife and children came with me, being my greatest supporters. I run/walked it in 41:41. I was exhausted yet overwhelmed with satisfaction and achievement.
The volunteers and other runners at the event couldn’t have been more friendly and welcoming, I instantly felt at ease – nobody cared that I was 20+ stone. I was emailed my results and I couldn’t wait for next week to see how I would fare.
And so my love of parkrun had begun.
I am lucky to have a number of parkuns near me so tried out various events but the Tees Barrage parkrun was my home event. Both my wife and I have volunteered a number of times at the Tees Barrage, and when my son, Xavier, turned four in May of this year he ran the 5k with me.
I was one extremely proud Dad.
As my running confidence grew I started to enter into 10k events, and then in September 2018 I ran the Great North Run raising funds for a local hospice in memory of my Dad.
The following month I was lucky enough to make my debut on the marathon scene – the Swiss Tourist Board had offered me a place in the Swiss City Marathon in Lucerne and I amazed with a finish time of 4h 54mins. I was hooked.
In April 2019 I successfully applied for a place in the London Marathon representing the national Slimming World team and raising funds for Cancer Research, this time running in 4h 24 mins. I’m currently training for the Yorkshire Marathon (October 2019) and Barcelona Marathon (March 2019), hoping to finish with a sub 4h time.
I owe parkrun a debt of gratitude.
It was those first steps that gave me the confidence to run, and change my life forever. Two years ago I had never ran. Now I am a multiple marathon runner who is, this Saturday, about to run my 100th parkrun (dressed as Forrest Gump) at the Tees Barrage parkrun, having PB’d with a time of 23:05 in my 99th run.
I have halved my body weight (27st to 13.5st) and reversed the effects of Type 2 Diabetes.
I know my Dad would be looking down and smiling!
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