Cook Street Village resident Keith Ashton and his team will start their fundraiser half marathon run at this point on the Lochside Trail in Central Saanich. The May 1 run winds up at the Terry Fox statue at the foot of Douglas Street in Victoria. (Photo courtesy Connie Robertson)

Cook Street Village resident Keith Ashton and his team will start their fundraiser half marathon run at this point on the Lochside Trail in Central Saanich. The May 1 run winds up at the Terry Fox statue at the foot of Douglas Street in Victoria. (Photo courtesy Connie Robertson)

Victoria COVID-19 survivor running half marathon to give back

Keith Ashton, 81, raising funds for equipment, gives kudos to frontline health care workers

Twice in a span of seven months last year, Keith Ashton experienced health issues serious enough to end his running days.

When the 81-year-old Victoria resident tackles a half marathon fundraiser run on May 1, however, he’ll be thinking less about how he survived COVID-19 last spring and a heart incident in late November and more about simply enjoying getting to the finish line.

“It’s starting to come up now and it becomes your main focus,” said Ashton, who ran the 2019 GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon and was rated among the top runners in his age group in Canada. “It is exciting, but we’ll see how it goes.”

Training with his group aptly nicknamed Happy Feet, he’s been running 26 and 27 kilometres to be ready for the 21K route. It begins on the Lochside Trail in Central Saanich, winds through his neighbourhood in Fairfield and ends at the Terry Fox memorial on Dallas Road.

Victoria runner Keith Ashton is all smiles after finishing a past Oak Bay half marathon. (Photo courtesy Connie Robertson)

Ashton is doing this event for a couple of reasons. Firstly, he’s an avid competitive runner who loves to challenge himself and wants to prove he can do it, especially after surviving COVID-19 and stent surgery to help his heart. He also wants to give back to the medical community that helped him.

ALSO READ: Island Health declares outbreak at second Victoria long-term care home

Keith’s Run with the Rabbit, his fundraiser at justgiving.com, will benefit the Victoria Hospital Foundation, specifically the high acuity units that support patients going from emergency to intensive care.

“When I was in hospital I was very very well looked after; I can’t speak highly enough about the care I received,” he said. “I think many people don’t have an awareness of how hard the people in hospital are working.”

While the heart incident required a routine procedure, COVID-19 knocked him flat.

“I’ve never seen him that sick, it was quite a shock,” said Ashton’s wife Andrea, grateful he managed to avoid the ICU and a ventilator.

Ashton flew home from the U.K. in mid-March, a trip that included a short flight from Vancouver, along with dentists returning from a conference believed to be one of B.C.’s first superspreader events. It took three weeks and two trips to the ER for Ashton to get tested for the virus, after which he spent weeks recovering.

“You get a lot of complacency about COVID,” he said, speaking to those who downplay its seriousness. “If you get this thing, you don’t want to get it again, assuming you recover.”

Among his health care providers last year, three doctors also happened to be avid runners. Not only did they provide quality care, Ashton said, they understood his desire to get running again. “That was my main concern, really … I think they sensed my anxiety on it.”

ALSO READ: Terry Fox’s legacy of resilience resonates during COVID-19 crisis, says brother

The doctor who discharged him last spring told him, “don’t push it, take it easy, go slow getting back into it.”

“Being patient isn’t one of my strong points, especially with myself,” Ashton said.

His cardiologist, Dr. Bilal Iqbal, advised him to limit himself to a half marathon this time and work his way back to full distance. Ashton, who has been running for decades is willing to heed the expert advice.

“The old expression, this is a marathon not a sprint really is true in this case,” he said with a chuckle.

For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.


 

Do you have a story tip? Email: don.descoteau@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

CoronavirusHealth and wellnessrunning

Just Posted

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Saanich girl, 12, speaks to lack of supports, says mom

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

The Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors in July 2021. (Malahat SkyWalk photo)
Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors this July

Highly anticipated attraction will take guests 250m above sea level

Port Alberni RCMP are investigating a homicide on Third Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
RCMP investigating homicide in Port Alberni apartment

Investigators are still trying to determine the identity of the deceased

A man who allegedly spat at and yelled racial slurs at an Asian family was arrested for hate-motivated assault Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man arrested for allegedly spitting, yelling anti-Asian racial slurs at a mother and kids

The man was arrested for hate-motivated assault near Quadra Elementary School Tuesday

Victoria police said Wednesday that they continue to look for Belinda Ann Cameron, who was last seen on May 5, 2005. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police still looking for Belinda Cameron who was last seen 16 years ago

Cameron was reported missing on June 4, 2005, and her case is deemed suspicious

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Clash between loggers, activists halts forestry operations over Fairy Creek

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

James Taylor, a Saanich resident and member of the Curve Lake First Nation, walked all over Greater Victoria on May 5 in honour of Red Dress Day and the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. (Devon Bidal/News staff)
Indigenous man walks Greater Victoria to honour missing and murdered women and girls

James Taylor’s march among many ways Islanders marked Red Dress Day

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,000 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

B.C. average home price and sales level to 2023, showing steep drop in sales expected next year. (Central 1)
Forecast calls for B.C. home sales to ‘explode,’ then drop off

Average price to rise another 10% in 2021, credit unions say

Illegal goods seized in the simultaneous April 23 busts in Saanich and Sooke. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
RCMP drug busts net trucks, cocaine, cash and Hells Angels gear

Simultaneous searches coordinated between West Shore, Saanich and Sooke police

Members of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. (File photo)
B.C.-wide #DayOfMusic to feature 100-plus free virtual concerts May 15

‘Our colleagues across the province have figured out new ways to perform and connect,’ VSO boss says

Two passengers were recently fined thousands of dollars after they faked their pre-flight COVID-19 test results. (Paul Clarke/Black Press)
2 passengers in Canada fined thousands for faking pre-flight COVID-19 tests

The government issued a warning Thursday to others thinking of doing the same – do it and you’ll be ordered to pay

The Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre on Wilkinson Road in Saanich. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police watchdog investigating after man found unresponsive at Saanich jail

Man was in Victoria police custody the day before being found

Victoria police is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying this suspect after they allegedly robbed a Douglas Street bank on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of VicPD)
Police seek identity of suspect who allegedly robbed Victoria bank

Officers were called to a bank in the 1000-block of Douglas Street just after 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday

Most Read