A last marathon effort for young cyclist killed during charity race
They had hoped to cheer him across the finish line of the London Marathon.
Instead, the heartbroken family of Gareth Crockett attended his funeral yesterday after the young cyclist was killed during a charity race.
Huge crowds of mourners gathered in Moira, Co Down, to remember the 27-year-old, whose sudden death has shocked the close-knit community.
Gareth was knocked off his bike on a dual carriageway in Anglesey, north Wales, during a 100-mile run and 450-mile cycle ride from Belfast to London.
He had planned the ‘Beldon challenge’ in memory of John Erwin, a childhood friend who died of leukaemia in May last year. The final stretch of the race was to involve running the London Marathon at the end of the eight-day trek in aid of Leukaemia Research.
Tragically, Gareth never made it that far. He was killed instantly after being hit by a car on Wednesday morning.
But, as thousands of runners crossed the finish line this weekend, his devastated family still had reason to watch the race.
Jez Davison, who was due to complete the Beldon challenge alongside Gareth, ran the marathon circuit on Saturday in honour of the local athlete.
The teacher had been cycling with Gareth when he was killed and was said to be “shell-shocked” by what happened.
In a touching tribute to his friend, Jez ran the 26.2-mile course a day before the rest of the runners, completing it in time to fly to Northern Ireland for Gareth’s funeral. He finished the marathon in an impressive three hours and 45 minutes.
Ian Erwin, the father of John, in whose memory the pair had planned the trek, said Jez had been determined to finish the race.
“Jez did the marathon course to complete the Beldon challenge, in honour of Gareth,” he said.
“He obviously couldn’t complete the whole challenge but wanted to let Gareth know they had got there despite everything.”
Jez and Gareth had pledged to raise £10,000 for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, a charity providing advice to sufferers of the devastating disease.
Since Gareth’s death, their total has reached nearly £24,000 as messages of support continue to flood in from across the world.
Former political aide Alistair Campbell, chairman of fundraising for the charity, urged people to keep donating to the cause.
“It is horrific that it has ended like this,” he said.
“The appeal remains open at www.justgiving.com/beldonchallenge. It is now honouring the memory of two young men.”