RAF veteran bids to become first Brit to complete World Marathon Challenge twice
Former RAF Senior Aircraftman Luke Wigman will join 41 runners in one of the world’s most gruelling running events – completing seven marathons in seven days on seven continents.
Luke comes to the challenge having had a difficult 18 months in his rehabilitation from an injury which left him struggling to walk and ended his RAF career. In 2011 Luke was struck by an IED while mentoring Afghan soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan. The blast damaged the soft tissues around the lower part of his left leg and he required an intense 12 months of hospital treatment and clinical rehabilitation to help him regain the strength needed to walk and, ultimately, run.
In 2018 Luke returned to hospital to have the skin grafts on his leg removed and re-grafted and part of his leg re-built. Each surgery has its risks and on this occasion, the treatment did not have the desired effect. Luke’s leg became so infected it was on the verge of becoming septic and he required intravenous anti-biotics for three weeks. The setback means what should have taken six weeks resulted in close to half a year of treatment and rehabilitation.
“Because the recovery was much longer the treatment took its toll on me mentally, physically and emotionally. I found it very difficult to get back into training, and I put on a stone in weight. It wasn’t until the RAF Benevolent Fund stepped in with a grant to cover my costs for being off work and the endless hospital trips that I was able to get back on track.”
Now back to running five or six times a week, Luke wasn’t preparing for the World Marathon Challenge because he was only invited to take part last week! In 2017 Luke finished the challenge in third place with an average marathon time of 3.09.33. This time around he’s looking to complete the challenge and enjoy every day.
“The experience in 2017 was life-changing. It feels great to be in such an exclusive group of athletes and adventurers. Less people have run seven marathons on seven continents in seven days than have climbed Mount Everest. This time round, I’m not as fit so it’s just about enjoying the running for me, every step of every marathon. Antarctica will be a tough place to start but at least that is when the energy will be at the highest. The fifth marathon, in Madrid, will be a difficult one mentally as you still have three more to run, and at this stage you would have accumulated 104.8 miles!”
The race is a logistical challenge as well as a physical one as runners travel from Antarctica to Cape Town, Perth, Dubai, Madrid, Fortaleza and Miami.
Luke has become an Ambassador for the RAF Benevolent Fund after the charity first stepped in to support him in 2011. The Fund provided a grant for Luke to undertake an advanced driving course which allowed him to pursue a career with the East Midlands Ambulance Service. Since then, Luke has enjoyed great success as a runner competing in the Invictus Games and bringing home two gold medals.
To support Luke go to JustGiving.