Jonathan Ashcroft, 41, from Hampshire is taking on the Vitality Reading Half Marathon this Sunday as part of his personal challenge to get fit and lose weight.

At his heaviest, Jonathan was 24 stone and was in no rush to lose weight anytime soon. He was also a heavy drinker and having an excessive amount of Redbull. Ultimately, the toll of this incredibly unhealthy lifestyle was brought to head when in August 2011 Jonathan was rushed to hospital in the back of an ambulance due to a suspected mini stroke (TIA), which turned out to be a trapped nerve in the neck. On the very same day, Jonathan’s wife discovered she was pregnant. It was at this moment that he was faced with the stark realisation that if he didn’t make some drastic changes to his lifestyle habits, he may face the possibility of not being around to see his son grow up.

As well as dealing with his own health problems, Jonathan had experienced the heartache of losing his father after a 15-year battle with cancer at the age of 51; Jonathan was just 19 years old.

Jonathan comments: “Due to a serious health scare, losing my father and the thought of not being there to raise my son, I decided that I needed to drastically improve my lifestyle. As a result, I decided to give up Redbull and alcohol, improve my diet and start walking, and I haven’t really looked back since. I’ve kept on walking and have now completed five, 100km off-road walks, raising over £4,000 for Cancer Research UK in the process.”

Having lost just over five stone, Jonathan decided to step up his efforts to lose weight at the start of the year by signing up to his first ever half marathon.

Commenting on his decision to run the Vitality Reading Half Marathon, Jonathan comments: “My friend lives very close to the halfway mark and does it every year. My wife did it with him two years ago and I guess now it’s my turn to give it a go. I’ve heard the atmosphere and support along the course is amazing, which is something I’ll really be looking forward to in the latter stages of the course! During my training runs, what really helps me is when I see the fitter runners wave and give me the thumbs up while I plod along. I’m hoping the crowd on the day will spur me on to the finish in a similar way.

“I really want to give a big shout out to all those preparing to take on the Reading Half Marathon who aren’t typical runners like me – you are all inspirational!”

If you’ve been inspired by Jonathan’s story and would like to donate, please visit: