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.


 

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

North Saanich has received a report from the Urban Development Institute calling on the municipality to expand and densify its housing options in the face of demographic and environmental changes as the municipality continues its Official Community Plan review. (Black Press Media file photo)
North Saanich asked to create more affordable, diverse housing

Urban Development Institute says community faces demographic, environmental challenges

The orange parcel was bought by the CRD for $1.1 million to add to Mount Work Regional Park. (CRD map)
Capital Regional District expands Mount Work land for $1.1 million

Privately-owned 13.8 hectares in the Highlands is ecologcically valuable

One woman has been arrested in connection with a drug trafficking investigation. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria woman arrested, car and drugs seized during trafficking investigation

Multiple units combine forces for investigation, arrest

Dog trainer Sharon Labossiere at play with her dogs. AnimalKind, the BC SPCA’s animal welfare accreditation and referral program, has granted accreditation to Sooke's Hanging with Hounds. (Contributed - BC SPCA)
Hanging With Hounds digs its paws into AnimalKind accreditation

Local dog trainer earns special BC SPCA status

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
Royal Bay pride crosswalk restored following graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Colwood high school

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

More “strings of lights” were seen on May 15, 2021, in night sky over Vancouver Island. (File photo)
Sicamous RCMP Sgt. Murray McNeil and Cpl. Wade Fisher present seven-year-old Cody Krabbendam of Ranchero with an award for bravery on July 22, 2020. (Contributed)
7-year old Shuswap boy receives medal of bravery for rescuing child at beach

Last summer Cody Krabbendam jumped into the lake to save another boy from drowning

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the province’s COVID-19 vaccine program, May 10, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays below 500 a day over weekend

14 more deaths, down to 350 in hospital as of Monday

Royal Bay Secondary School’s rainbow crosswalk was vandalized shortly after being painted but by Monday, coincidentally the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the crosswalk had been cleaned up and students had surrounded it with chalk messages of support and celebration. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C. high’s school’s pride crosswalk restored following ‘hateful’ graffiti attack

Hate terms, racial slur, phallic images spray-painted at Greater Victoria high school

Terrance Mack would have celebrated his 34th birthday on May 13, 2021. Mack’s family has identified him as the victim of a homicide in an apartment on Third Avenue in Port Alberni sometime in April. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Family identifies Ucluelet man as victim of Vancouver Island homicide

Terrance Mack being remembered as ‘kind, gentle’ man

Nathan Zuk had left his mother’s residence in Whaletown on Cortes Island in mid-December 2020 in a 14’ skiff rowboat and headed to an unknown location near the Pryce Channel, Deer passage, or Toba Inlet. Photo courtesy RCMP
RCMP need help finding man who set off from Cortes Island in 14-foot rowboat

Nathan Zuk left in December, may have been last seen in Toba Inlet approximately three weeks ago

Emergency service workers at the collision scene along Highway 4 in Hilliers on Sunday, May 16. A motorcyclist was airlifted to hospital by BC Air Ambulance and later died. (Collin C photo)
UPDATE: Motorcyclist dies from injuries sustained in Mid-Island highway collision

BC Highway Patrol says impairment not a contributing factor in crash

An avalanche near Highway 1 in Glacier National Park. Avalanche Canada will benefit from a $10 million grant from the B.C. government. (Photo by Parks Canada)
Avalanche Canada receives $10-million grant from B.C. government

Long sought-after funds to bolster organization’s important work

Most Read