An Airdrie schoolteacher is helping those living with mobility challenges to experience the thrill, excitement and camaraderie of taking part in mass running events. Nelson Liddle, founded the JAPES (Joelette & People Experiences) project after he witnessed a group of runners helping a young boy participate in the Rome Marathon in a Joelette.
JAPES launched in Scotland at the Great Scottish Run last year and a host of events are planned for 2017, as the project continues to grow and inspire, including the new marathon in Stirling later this month (21 May).
“I was first saw the idea at Rome Marathon in 2014 and almost right away considered how I could bring the concept to Scotland. I had only been running a few years at that point, getting involved to try and lose weight. When I began I was 22 stone, living the stereotypical life of a Scottish male - beer, football and pies,” described Nelson of his introduction into running.
“What struck me from the very first day that I ran was how inclusive it was, from the faster runner right down to those like myself who were at the back, you got support from everyone. I wanted to use my experience to bring the Japes to Scotland, there was lots of conversations about it and I realised that I would have to do something phenomenal to make it happen.”
In the summer of 2016, Nelson took on the John Muir Way Challenge. This saw him run from Helensburgh to Dunbar, coast-to-coast, on the John Muir Way in Scotland - a distance of 138 miles - the equivalent of five marathons over five days. The Crowdfunding raised through this allowed the purchase of their first Joelette, and JAPES was born. Such was the unprecedented success of the fundraising efforts; he was able to hold his first event nine months ahead of schedule.
“The plan was to hold the first ever Japes 10K this year, but such was the response following the John Muir Way we were able to launch nine months early – the feedback from all of those taking part and their families has been great, we’ve been overwhelmed with all of the support we’ve received,” he added.
“The project is so rewarding for everyone involved and it’s great fun to be a part of too – there’s so much more to come too including both a men’s and women’s 10K and our first ever marathon too.”