A Hong Kong runner was going “crazy” in quarantine after returning from the UK last Monday, so he decided to break the monotony by running a marathon around his small flat.
The task took Peter Cooper four hours 39 minutes – a total of 5,250 laps.
Last Wednesday, Cooper posted on LinkedIn that he would run an indoor marathon if he received 1,000 likes. But he only amassed around 200 so the idea was shelved.
“It was a bit spontaneous. I woke on up on Sunday with a few Whatsapps from friends asking if I was still doing it. I thought, well, why not? I went and put my running gear on and just started doing it,” said Cooper, who works for travel and tourism company Egencia.
After 10km and realising it was impossible to get up any speed and that the repetitive course was making him dizzy, he began to worry if it was a good idea. Turning every four metres in the same direction was giving him a blister too. So he changed the course to head around his table and the slight alteration made continuing possible.
“But at around 22 miles, that is when I thought about quitting,” the 28-year-old said. “But my wife said ‘surely it’s downhill now?’ and my friends in the UK were waking up. I began to live-stream it and that helped.”
The run was about more than beating boredom though. Cooper, who is originally from the UK, raised money for two charities – Mind and Cardiomyopathy UK.
He chose Mind, a mental health charity, for two reasons. Firstly, Cooper wanted to highlight the mental strain of isolation or quarantine: “Everyone is stuck, people who are usually sociable are stuck. People need to make a point of calling others, maybe they don’t usually talk to, and staying active.”
Also, his mother died two years ago and since then Cooper has struggled with his own mental health issues. His mother was a keen marathon runner and wanted to complete the six major marathons but was unable to. Cooper completed the New York and Chicago marathons last October and November, the two his mother never got to run.
“Running makes me feel closer to my mum,” Cooper said. “I have a lot of photos of her around the flat and I thought of her as I completed it. Also, I did a marathon with my best friend and he died a few months afterwards. So, I thought about both of them.”
But it was only recently that it seemed Cooper might never run again. He raised money for Cardiomyopathy UK because he suffers from arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), an enlarged right side of his heart.
It puts him at risk of heart attack and he was told he could never run. He was not even allowed to play cricket, his main sport, and he began to suffer mentally from the lack of activity. He then went to a private hospital and they told him he might be able to manage a 10km safely. He immediately went home, put on his trainers and ran 10km.
“A weight came off my shoulders. It was like I had a hangover for two years and now it was gone,” Cooper said.
“I’m very conscious that I couldn’t run and that it might be taken away from me at any time,” he added. “It makes me appreciate any run.”