Marathon man raises funds for charity

Roche UK’s Gary Chalkley and 40 colleagues take up extreme challenge to raise funds for charity

NASA awards astronaut wings to those who have traveled above an altitude of 80 km (50 miles). Roche UK’s Gary Chalkley picked that as a theme and ran 80 km on a treadmill in a little over 11 hours on June 5 to raise funds for the charity of the year – Medical Detection Dogs. Partnering him in his efforts were 40 Roche colleagues who took turns on two static bikes to jointly cover a whopping 480 km. This was way above the targeted 386 km distance between earth and the International Space Station. Till date over 3700 British Pounds have already been raised.

Gary is an IT End User Specialist and is passionate about extreme running and charitable causes. He does a charity challenge each year. This year he decided to support Roche UK’s charity of the year. He says quite matter of fact: “It is nice to have a theme, and makes people relate to something. I had a rough idea of what distance I should be able to cover and we saw that the 80 km distance had a connection with NASA. It was always planned to be a group activity with the cyclists and we then decided on the space station distance.”

All in 11 hours

So on June 5, at 6 am, Gary got onto the treadmill in the exhibition area at the Roche Welwyn campus. The first two cyclists started at 8. Every half hour a fresh pair of cyclists took their place on the bikes and continued the challenge. Gary continued to run and completed the 80 km distance in 11 hours 26 minutes. “I probably spent about 11 hours on the treadmill. I did come off on occasions for breaks, changing trainers and socks, having a bite, taking care of a few blisters, attending to call of nature and to be sick a couple of times,” he recalls.

Running long distances is not new to Gary. He started young running from his school days onward. In 2004 he even went dog sledding in northern Sweden for charity. He didn’t need too much extra training for the June event. In April he had completed the Greater Manchester marathon followed by the Milton Keynes marathon in May. In the past he’s also run the Prague marathon, Barcelona marathon, the Belfast 24 hour track ultra and twice completed the Tooting Bec 24 hour ultra.

And how does he pack in so much? “For that, I have to be thankful to work colleagues for putting up with my crazy ideas, and for backing and supporting me, and also my girlfriend Emma for her understanding as I keep dragging her along to these marathons and 24 hour events.”

Happy running

"I try to run Monday – Thursday and then a longer run over the weekend. Rest is just as important though, and you have to listen to your body. I have a small running community at Roche and we get together at lunchtimes when possible. I am happy running with complete novices and more experienced runners. I’m still learning and take great pleasure in passing help and advice on," he tells Roche.

About his work he says: “I’ve only ever worked at Roche. I left school and started here in 1987, a month before my 17 birthday. I’ve always been in IT.”So, what’s next? Gary’s next aiming to run the 100 miles distance (about 160 km) within 24 hours. That will be tough he knows, but then when there’s a challenge and a charity, he very often says YES!

Tags: Sustainability, Philanthropy, Society, People