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Former Newmarket Town player Shaun Whiter to take on half-marathon challenge

A former non-League footballer who had his legs amputated after a hit-and-run crash is to run a half marathon on blades to raise money for dementia research.

Shaun Whiter, 31, was injured when he was hit by a car while changing a tyre at the side of the road in 2016. Following extensive rehabilitation, the ex-Newmarket Town player, who works as a youth coach for Ipswich Town, has learned to run on blades and has been gradually building up his distance.

Shaun, who lives in Newmarket, is tackling Sunday’s Saucony Cambridge Half Marathon with his friend Henry Comfort, to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK in honour of his grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.

Shaun Whiter with training partners Martin Atkinson, left, and Ben Cooper taking part in the recent Stratford 10-mile race.
Shaun Whiter with training partners Martin Atkinson, left, and Ben Cooper taking part in the recent Stratford 10-mile race.

He said: “My grandmother lives in Ireland and during the time I was going through my rehabilitation I was not able to get over to see her. I am now able to see her more often, but her dementia has progressed and she struggles to remember who I am. I think she knows about my accident, but then it’s hard to know her feelings about it and how much she’s aware of it.

“Dementia is horrible – it doesn’t just affect the person dealing with it, it affects the whole family. I would do anything to change it. Research is so important and if we don’t support it, people are just going to keep having to deal with this.”

Running a half marathon is the latest in a series of challenges Shaun has taken on since the accident. In 2017 he completed a 150-mile two-day tour of Suffolk on a hand-pedal bike and last year he climbed Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales.

He said: “It’ been a two-year project to get to this race. I felt like I was physically fit, but it wasn’t until I did upright cardio again that I realised I was essentially starting from scratch.

“I had to get used to running on blades, which is very different from the upright running style of someone like the World and Olympic champion Michael Johnson who had a very upright style. You can’t run like that on blades as you’d waste so much energy just bouncing up and down. You’ve got to lean forward to get the momentum from the blade.

“I’ve built it up, getting used to
the technique, from 400m, then 800m, then up to a mile. I ran my first 10km race in May last year and decided I wanted to push it further so set the goal of doing a half marathon.”

To sponsor Shaun, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Shaun-And-Henry