He may have completed the biggest challenge of his life—but the journey has only just begun for Simon Kindleysides.
The father-of-three, who is paralysed from the waist down, walked the London Marathon in record time thanks to a ReWalk exoskeleton suit that allows him to move about independently.
While a certain celebrity runner limped off after just six miles due to a knee injury, Simon showed the world how to take on the impossible and completely smash it out of the water.
More than 40,000 people took part in the annual event on April 22.
“I didn’t think it was going to get there towards the end. I’m ecstatic I made it,” said Simon. “I really struggled in the last two miles, I was in so much pain.
“I pretty much walked through the night with about two hours’ rest. I actually did the walking in 27.5 hours, but in total with the breaks and stop offs it was 38 hours because I had to change the batteries every four hours and reprogram the suit, which took time.
“It’s surreal watching back videos of me crossing the finish line—I don’t even remember it, by that stage my brain was like mashed potato.
“I’m buzzing I’ve done it and raised so much money for such an important cause. It just shows anything is possible.
"One person anonymously donated £8,000, which I can’t believe. I am so grateful for everyone who donated.”
Along the way he met some famous faces, including Sandi Bogle from Gogglebox and Celebrity Big Brother 2017, as well as TV and radio presenter George Lamb.
While stopping at Canary Wharf College for a comfort break, he was invited in to speak at their Monday morning assembly by the headteacher.
“At first I thought I was only going to speak to a few students, next think I’m being taken into the assembly hall,” he said.
“It was so humbling to be invited in to speak to them. They were all blown away by the suit’s technology and how it allowed me to walk. I was really grateful for their support, they really helped to boost the final leg of the race.”
Simon after crossing the finish line
Raising more than £23,000 for the Brain Tumour Charity, Simon now has an even bigger mountain to climb as he hopes to raise the funds to buy himself his own exoskeleton suit worth around £80,000.
Oh, and he actually has a mountain to climb—the 34-year-old hopes to conquer Mount Snowdon in north Wales by the end of the year.
He said: “I really want to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, but they suggested I started with a more local one because it would be really expensive to send the suit to Africa.
“I have decided on Snowdon. There are about six different paths to take, so I will have to work out which one will fit with the suit as I will be leaning forward for most of the climb.
“It may not be as big as Kilimanjaro, but it’ll still be a gruelling challenge.”
“The second I get my own suit, the world will be my oyster,” he said. “I have gone from walking every day to not at all this last week, and I am aching to get moving again.
“This is why I’ve set up the Legs for Life funding page. I need to raise 80,000 in total, which is a lot, but so many generous people have already kick started the fund, so hopefully I can be back on my feet soon.”
To donate to Simon's Legs for Life, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/simonslegsforlife.