The owner of Somerset based health and safety advisor firm, C2 safety, Jerome Timbrell completed his 100th Marathon on 6th May 2017, marking the amazing milestone by running a 100 mile race in Kent in 23 hours. Through this fantastic achievement, Jerome has raised a significant amount of money for a variety of charities, including Testicular Cancer Charity, “it’s in the bag” and Lighthouse club for injured construction workers.
What makes Jerome’s story particularly unique, are the life changing events including being the victim of an armed robbery and bariatric surgery resulted in him developing his commitment to and passion for running.
In 1997 Jerome was employed as a Manager in Belgium, overseeing a warehouse that stored computer products including chips that at the time were incredibly valuable. It was November, shortly after Halloween, whilst working at around 11pm that Jerome heard a lorry reversing outside of his warehouse which was a standard occurrence, and would normally result in the driver ringing the bell for access into the Warehouse. Having heard the bell, Jerome opened the door to find himself faced by a gang of 5 men wearing Halloween masks and brandishing machine guns.
Jerome recalls, “I was taken hostage by the gang and there were at least 8 different moments during the ordeal that I thought it was the end and that I was going to die”.
As the armed robbery unfolded, police arrived on the scene and the gunmen opened fire shooting a passer by, affirming their disregard for life and blasé attitude towards using their weapons. The ordeal inside the Warehouse lasted for approximately 45 minutes, before Jerome was taken in a stolen car at gunpoint, through a police pursuit to a secluded area of a forest. Jerome explained “we went into the woods and they told me to get out of the car, I was convinced they were going to kill me, so I refused. They stated that they would kill me in the car if I didn’t get out. I got out and was instructed to walk away, my overwhelming belief being that I was going to be shot in the back”. Miraculously, the gunmen drove away, leaving Jerome physically unharmed, but with a significant amount of psychological trauma, which manifested itself in symptoms of PTSD.
Following the robbery, Jerome worked for Epsom printers for a few years, living out of hotels, with the trauma he had endured leading to an unhealthy lifestyle of excessive drinking, eating and lack of exercise, which saw Jerome’s weight balloon to 23 stone. Jerome explained “once our children were born, I knew that something had to change, if I was going to be around to see them live their lives”. Jerome considered his options and decided that gastric bypass surgery was his best of hope of getting his weight back under control. So following consultations and assessments, he commenced on a course of counselling via the NHS in order to prepare for his surgery and in 2007 when he underwent a Roux en y procedure. This resulted in the size of Jerome’s stomach being vastly reduced, limiting his calorific intake and leading to him reducing his weight from 23 to 12 stone in just 6 months.
In 2008, a year after successful bariatric surgery, Jerome received a place to run in the London Marathon for the charity BOSPA. BOSPA is the British Obesity Surgery Patients Association, a charity formed in December 2003, to provide support and information to patients of obesity surgery in the UK.
Jerome explained “BOSPA wanted the marathon place to go to a surgery survivor like myself, and I managed to raise £1400 for them. Although to be honest, raising money was very difficult due to the stigma that overweight people endure”. Jerome recalls “I committed to marathon training and completed the London marathon in 4 hours and 43 minutes, and decided that it needed to be life changing, so I booked the Berlin Marathon for 6 months later”.
Jerome has gone on to complete a real variety of marathons and ultra marathons, including a track event that required 105 laps in order to reach the marathon distance, and running the London marathon twice in fancy dress. Jerome has ran a number of European marathons including Rome, Valencia, Athens, Nice to Cannes and even one over volcanoes in the Canary Islands. In his pursuit of the 100 marathon club, Jerome has also completed two 100 mile ultra marathon races and even trained to run the John O’Groats to Lands End challenge, unfortunately this is where yet another life changing event occurred.
Training to run the length of Great Britain is a huge commitment and incredibly tough, a challenge that Jerome fully committed himself to, and as part of his training he even ran the 35 miles from his home in Spaxton to Bristol, to compete in the Green Man Ultra, a 48 mile event around the Bristol Community Forest Path. Two weeks before he was due to run from Lands End to John O’Groats, Jerome was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which required urgent surgery and prevented him from undertaking the challenge. It was a huge blow to be denied the opportunity to complete due to serious health issues having trained so hard in preparation for such a prestigious event, however Jerome used his fitness to his advantage, making a swift and full recovery. Not one to be easily deterred, Jerome recovered quickly from his operation, and was soon back running. His first marathon post surgery, was in the Brecon Beacons, and despite suffering a serious fall at mile 10, and breaking his arm, Jerome continued on to finish the race.
Through all of the life changing challenges that he has faced, Jerome has developed a contagious positivity, and unique outlook on life and has an uncompromising can do attitude, which he openly attributes to being held at gun point. Along with running 100 marathons, Jerome has supported Bridgwater based Quantock Harriers running club, having been their chairman for the last four years and often supporting less experienced runners in their training and racing quests. His business has gone from strength to strength, with C2 Safety being the first health and safety company in the UK to offer their business model as a franchise.
Although more and more amateur runners are reaching for and achieving the coveted 100 marathon club status, few if any have endured similar challenges to Jerome, which makes his achievement all the more inspiring and unique.