Fun-loving Michael Ferndale has never run the opposite way from a challenge, writes Will Jennings.
But the innovative charity fundraiser is relishing the prospect of embracing that mantra quite literally when he tackles a gruelling five marathons in five days this month – all in reverse.
Ferndale, a former soldier, will descend on London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin next week to complete the extraordinary challenge.
He’s taking on the novelty task to raise money for both the Lord’s Taverners and The Change Foundation, who both use sport to inspire social change among young people and give them opportunities that many of us took for granted when we were growing up.
Ferndale is relishing the prospect of his unconventional adventure and hopes his outside-the-box exploits can extend the pivotal work of both causes.
Michael Ferndale will be 🏃♂️ 5️⃣ marathons in 5️⃣ different cities in 𝕣𝕖𝕧𝕖𝕣𝕤𝕖 to raise money for the Lord’s Taverners & @ChangeFdn in support of disadvantaged & disabled young people...& we're also encouraging schools to try a reverse challenge of their own!
For more ⬇️
— Lord's Taverners (@LordsTaverners) September 10, 2021
Ferndale, who kicks off the challenge in Dublin on October 9 before completing the astonishing feat in London on October 13, said: “I’ve always found things that people find easy, difficult, and some things people find impossible, easy – so my life has always been slightly in reverse anyway.
“For me, being part of things I like with new people has made me the way I am – leadership in the army, sport and doing crazy things. Doing bonkers stuff that you’ve never done before will change you as a person.
“You never know where it will take you in your life but trust me, it will take you to good places.
“It started as a stupid comment but then I realised actually, we can do something quite creative with this.
“I’ve met some amazing people and had some amazing experiences – what I think the whole philosophy of the challenge should be about is doing things differently.
“Running in reverse uses three times as much energy as normal running, so it’s going to be a challenge. But I don’t really like things being about me – this should be about recipients of the charity.”
Covid-19 has had a far-reaching impact and consequences for so many of us – especially those that are disabled, disadvantaged or marginalised who have struggled with isolation all their lives, not just a few months.
And now more than ever, sport and activity have a huge role to play not only in our health, but also for the good of society.
Ferndale, who was born in Edinburgh and is now based in London, served in The British Army for seven years – including in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Northern Ireland – after being educated at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and The University of Dundee.
He now boasts nearly two decades of experience in corporate boardrooms and is currently a partner at leading firm ECC Consultancy.
Ferndale completed the notoriously punishing 257km Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert in 2016 before running the London Marathon backwards the following year – all in the name of the Lord’s Taverners.
But his latest charity challenge marks his toughest test yet, racking up a whopping 131 miles in the space of five days before finishing his reverse odyssey in the English capital.
He’s hellbent on inspiring others and wants his landmark achievement to ensure doing things in reverse leaves a long-lasting legacy in schools nationwide.
Ferndale added: “This is just a bright shiny thing to get it all going with.
“If we can develop this over a few years as an annual, organic thing that children can do themselves, that would be fantastic.
“This isn’t about me – otherwise there will be no legacy. This is about children, and the real focus about it all is empowering young people, raising money for young people and inspiring them to do something different.
“I want kids to go out and run 100m, or do whatever, backwards and for it to become a yearly event – it’s about schoolchildren shaping something for themselves at an organic level and I want to leave a legacy. It’s all about young people helping young people – that’s the genesis of it.
“I want young people to take ownership, discover newfound forms of confidence and make it into whatever reverse challenge they want it to be.”
Michael Ferndale will be tackling the Reverse Running Challenge between October 9-13 to raise money and awareness to help disadvantaged and disabled young people to fulfil their potential and build life skills. Visit https://donate.giveasyoulive.com/fundraising/michael-ferndales-reverse-running-challenge to make a donation.