Riding Beyond Limits
He may have completed one race in a wheelchair, but Josh was about to go where no man had gone before. It’s hard to believe that the idea was impulsive – something that came to mind for Josh when thinking about how to do more for the community. Where does one even start when planning a challenge that has never been done before?
The biggest difference between this and the Berlin Marathon was the chair. Previously, Josh had raced in a chair with a clip-on front wheel. This time, Josh was going to endure this challenge in a race chair – where he wasn’t seated but instead, supported by his legs in a bent over position. The race chair was also designed for a blind Canadian athlete that never competed in it, so Josh was not only learning how to use a new chair, but one that was built for a completely different man. The challenge seemed completely daunting.
Once Josh had got his legs into position in the chair, it took a matter of two minutes before the pins and needles set in. This time, it wasn’t just about getting used to operating a chair and living in it, but rather allowing his body the time to get used to living in it too.
People within the Weir Archer Academy couldn’t believe what Josh was set out to achieve – no-one had covered those distances before, let alone someone who had little experience with using a wheelchair.
But it wasn’t just the chair that Josh had to become accustomed too. There were fears that came with a race of this magnitude.
“One of my biggest concerns was going down an A1 road at 40 mph into a pot hole …. I knew and was told it could be detrimental. A lot of wheelchair users suffer from PTSD from the fear of falling out of the chair.”
Fear did not stop Josh and on May 11th 2019, he broke a new male world record time, completing the race in the 19 days he set to achieve, in a wheelchair.
When Josh got to the finish line, all he could think was that he’d been through 19 days of hell.
“When you finally complete it and you wake up the next day and it’s done, your body is in shock. Going back to normality out of training was really hard – and something I’m still trying to work on. For every high there is always a low.”
Despite his struggles, Josh achieved what he set out to – setting a new record and raising awareness and money for the Spinal Injuries Association – the charity which supported his best friend Ben after his accident that left him in a wheelchair.
‘This is quite a big statement that we’re making here. This is more than just me being in a wheelchair, trying to break a record time. This is a message that we’re trying to deliver; to make sure that any individual can have the happiest and fulfilled life.’