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Chris Rattenbury has always dreamt about taking part in the London Marathon since he watched Chris Hallam MBE in the 1980’s. He was inspired by his record breaking performances and hoped that one day he could take part in the great race himself. In 2021 Chris realised his dream of becoming a London Marathon racer and on Sunday 3rd October he pushed he way around the famous course in his Ottobock Ventus day chair.
Chris is 42 years old and grew up in Milton Keynes. He is a volunteer and ambassador for WheelPower and attended WheelPower camps as a child and an adult. Chris began volunteering for WheelPower in 2010 and he regularly helps out at the office and plays a key role in our community programme when he gets to visit schools, rotary clubs & other events to help promote the charity.
Talking about his own disability Chris a full time wheelchair user explains, “I have Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. Spina Bifida is a disability caused by the spine not forming properly, and hydrocephalus is water around the brain that sometimes needs a tube insertion into the skull to help drain water into the stomach or heart.”
Chris plays wheelchair basketball for Aces Wheelchair Basketball Club at Stoke Mandeville Stadium and is also a former GB Powerlifter. As he explains, “I did powerlifting for 17 years from 1997 to 2014. I travelled across the world representing Great Britain at World Champs and Euro Champs as well as England at 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.” After retiring Chris has continued to enjoy playing sport and being active as much as possible. Which culminated in him signing up for the 2021 London Marathon.
London Marathon Day
“My dad dropped me off at Blackheath station and I pushed down, up and over grass to Greenwich Park before negotiating the portaloo! It felt like I’d done a marathon before I started! It was a bit chilly whilst I waited at the start and I was asked if I wanted to go early which I did, by 40 minutes. I was ready to go, pressed play on my music and I was off.”
“My aim was to push 9 minute miles to stay on track for a good time and I started well. Mile 2/3 was all downhill so it was quite difficult trying to negotiate other runners, so I decided to go around them on the outside and I only had one near miss so all good. Taking on drinks was also a bit of a challenge. The bottles of water were okay but the Lucozade was in cups which made it more difficult to hold.”
“I was running on adrenaline and really in the zone. I could hear people cheering me on and people were really really good. I think the thing I was most nervous about was getting a puncture. My dad had brought some spare wheels just incase but fortunately nothing happened and the Ottobock Ventus did me proud. The guys had given it a good check over on Friday so it was ready to go.”
“The weather was generally okay and it didn’t rain until I finished which was good timing. The heavens opened! On course though I did have to go through some showers which made my wheels very slippy for a time after. The other tough bit was definitely the wind I encountered at Canaray Wharf. I was well under 4 hours until this point but the wind was shocking. Also the timing strips were like a mini ramp which wasn’t ideal!”
“But overall it was really really good and I’m so chuffed with the time. Crossing the line after 4 hours and 6 mins made me feel so good. I was relieved to make it but also overwhelmed with the sense of achievement.”
“After crossing the line I met my dad at Horse Guards Parade which was brilliant, as I could share this special moment with him. He has been incredibly instrumental in what I have achieved throughout my life and is always there to support me.”
“To think of where I was a year ago and where I am today is totally unrecognisable. I knew I had to get myself together following injury and my leg amputation and It’s amazing what I have been able to achieve. I think the set backs along the way have made me stronger, and actually enabled me to get fitter by bringing more focus to my health during my recovery.”
“Looking ahead now I would like to do a few more marathons and half marathons. I have my sights set on the Great North Run, the London Big Half and maybe even the marathon in Berlin one day! I am going to carry on the training as I have actually quite enjoyed it. I am also looking forward to the start of the Basketball Season with my Aces teammates and getting back to the gym at Stoke Mandeville Stadium to do some more weights over the winter.”
Chris has been supported by friends, family and colleagues throughout his journey to the London Marathon finish line. In doing so Chris achieved a lifelong dream and also raised £1400 for WheelPower which is absolutely amazing. We are so proud to see Chris with his medal and know he will enjoy sharing this with others. You really have inspired so many people with your determination and strength and we look forward to supporting you again on your next adventure!
“I have been lucky to have won a few trophies in my life, however this medal truly does mean the most. It is the one sporting achievement I ever wanted to achieve in life. I wouldn’t have achieved what I did today without everyone who has supported me and be in the best mental and physical shape of my life. Thank You to everyone who has donated and please continue to do so, as every single penny will make a huge difference to WheelPower."
Chris's 2021 London Marathon Diary
Over the last 6 months we have been following Chris's journey to the London Marathon with monthly updates to his online blog and diary. Please do check out the full story to see how far Chris has come this past year, and given the challenges he has faced it's even more inspiring to see him cross theta finish line and collect his medal.