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

The Victoria Police Department is seeking information on an assault that occurred in downtown Victoria on May 10. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police investigating downtown Victoria assault on youth

Witness also attacked after trying to intervene

Local cyclist Max McCulloch catches air off a jump in the newly redesigned Organ Donor trail at Mount Work mountain biking park. The Capital Regional District approved its regional parks mountain biking guidelines and a list of short-term actions at the CRD board’s May 12 meeting. (Black Press Media File Photo)
CRD approves mountain biking guidelines that drove spoke between advocates, environmentalists

Guidelines aim to find new biking opportunites in region, while protecting park ecology

Howard English Hatchery volunteer Joscilyn Jupp poured one of many buckets of salmon fry into Douglas Creek on May 11, 2021. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
35,000 salmon fry released in Saanich park during closed event

Chum from Goldstream Hatchery trucked in to restore Douglas Creek salmon spawning

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

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

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Over the years, police have worked with sketch artists to draw what the boys could have looked like at the times of their deaths. (Vancouver Police Department)
DNA breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered Vancouver boys, 7 and 8

Forensic analysts are working to identify relatives of the children, whose bodies were found in Stanley Park in 1953

Livestock competitions have been part of the Pacific National Exhibiton for more than a century. (Maple Ridge News files)
B.C. provides $50 million to keep major tourist attractions going

Tour bus companies also eligible for latest COVID-19 aid

Derek Descoteau with his trusty dog Harvey. (Photo submitted)
Friends provide continuing comfort for family in wake of unresolved senseless B.C. murder

Case remains before the courts five years after Derek Descoteau’s abrupt stabbing death in Chemainus

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

The Nanaimo Timbermen and Victoria Shamrocks compete in Western Lacrosse Association action in Nanaimo during the 2019 season. (News Bulletin file photo)
WLA cancels another senior A lacrosse season due to COVID-19

Western Lacrosse Association, Major Series Lacrosse announce cancellation of Mann Cup

The top photo is of a real carbine rifle, while the bottom photo is the airsoft rifle seized from a Kelowna man on May 15. (Contributed)
RCMP issue warning: ‘Imitation firearms need to be dealt with responsibly’

A man brandishing his airsoft rifle in public had his weapon seized by Mounties on Saturday

Abbotsford Regional Hospital. (Black Press Media files)
Canada marks 25,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began

6 in every 10,000 Canadians died of COVID-19 since March 9, 2020

Most Read