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Half-marathon charity challenge has personal meaning for Gibraltar runners

Wayne Warwick is no stranger to a challenge, having recently swum around the Rock to raise money for charity. But his next challenge of a half-marathon is personal.

Mr Warwick, together with his step daughter Sofia, 17, will complete a half-marathon, a distance of 21.1km, on October 31 in aid of the Stroke Association in the UK.

Mr Warwick’s son Wesley recently suffered a stroke, bringing into sharp relief the impact that can have on a family.

With Wesley now on the road to recovery, Mr Warwick wants to give back and help raise much needed funds for the UK-based charity.

However, it is not just about raising funds. It is also about raising awareness about strokes.

“I have been in touch with the Stroke Association in the UK and they are going to give me paraphernalia,” he said.

“Sofia has already asked the school whether can she put up the posters so that people can become more aware of what to do.”

“And I have a lot of people from the running clubs that have already said ‘Wayne, we will help you, we will do it with you’.”

“I don’t know if people will do the whole thing or just parts of it with me, but most of them can do it three times faster than me anyway,” he added modestly.

With over three weeks to go, the two runners have already raised over £1,000.

He explained that £300 supports a volunteer for a stroke survivor for a year and gives them a better quality of life and builds their confidence.

“We are already over £1,000 so that means we will help more stroke survivors. Which is good but my main drive is the awareness.”

Mr Warwick explains that, for stroke victims, the main thing to remember is FAST, a trigger word that ensures a prompt response.

“So, it is F for face. See if there is a drop in the face,” he said.

“A is arms, see if they can lift both arms and if they can put any weight on it to see if there is equal pressure.”

“S for speech, so can they speak or is it slurred?”

“And T for time because time is important. If you can get [medical care] within three hours, they can nearly reverse the effects of the stroke.”

“The longer it takes, the less chance there is to help them out,” he added.

Mr Warwick originally planned on running the half-marathon on World Stroke Awareness Day, October 29, but due to the overwhelming support he received he changed the date.

“If I have more people around, it will raise more awareness which is my main drive,” he said.

“Any support I can get is welcome.”

Mr Warwick ran the distance as a training session in March this year and was doing so solo.

However, he had hit the proverbial wall and wanted to stop.

“I only completed it because Stefan Davis [Carpe Diem Running Club member and fellow GAAA league participant] caught up with me after 13km and pushed me for the last 8km to finish.”

“He would not let me not finish it,” he recalled.

While Mr Warwick has completed the distance before, Sofia has not.

“She is a sprinter,” he said.

“I think her biggest one was 800m.”

“She does train 5km but that is it. She goes off like a bullet and I can’t keep up. I have told her ‘we are running it together and you have to run it as my pace’.”

“She said ‘I don’t think I can go that slow’,” he laughed.

Helping the Warwick family out in any way he can is stroke survivor John Shephard Jnr. Not only is he supporting the family through his own understanding of the medical and emotional impacts of a stroke, he is also helping drum up support for the half-marathon challenge.

The run will start at 9.30am in Casemates where Mr Shephard will be there to see the group, adhering to social distancing measures, off on their challenge.

Runners will head to Victoria Stadium, down Devil’s Tower Rd, take in Eastern Beach and on to the Dudley Ward Tunnel before turning around and heading back towards the Sundial Roundabout.

From there up Line Wall Road and continuing down to Little Bay via Rosia. There the runners will turn back on themselves and make their way to Queensway via Ragged Staff.

Along Queensway they will take a diversion down the Small Boats Marina before heading down Bishop Caruana Road, down past the hospital and the back of Morrisons. The final stretch will take the runners down by Waterport Terraces and then towards Casemates.

Before the half-marathon challenge, on October 17, Mr Warwick will accompany Mr Shephard as he walks up to O’Hara’s Battery at the Top of the Rock.

“If you know John, that is going to be a feat,” he said.

The two men will be joined by others including the Gibraltar Rugby Union clubs helping them out along the way.

Mr Shephard, like his father, the late Chronicle Sports Editor John Shephard, is well known in sports and both Mr Warwick and his son played rugby for the Buccaneers.

“The main drive there again is to raise awareness,” said Mr Warwick.

Anyone wishing to donate to the fund can do so at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/wayne-warwick?fbclid=IwAR0rF3EePw7uQ2XG5ixiuriq0re65euxkqHT8wKus43LcAV1yX3cIfGqp-M&utm_id=124