Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Run a marathon in the armour of a stormtrooper

Dave Roper (35 years) is an ex soldier from Reigate, a Star Wars super fan and a fitness instructor who loves the sports challenges. With this information, it is easier to understand his new goal: run the Brighton Marathon dressed as a stormtrooper to raise money for the charity Autism All Stars. His two children are diagnosed with autism. In this interview, he tells us the meaning of #stormtrooperdave.

- How did the idea of running the Brighton Marathon dressed as a stormtrooper arise?

I have run the Brighton Marathon as Spiderman in 2016 and achieved my PBs in 3.44.46. I ran a half marathon in 1.29.17 (The Intersport Run Reigate) and a 10k in 39.17. People always like to see a challenge when it comes to sponsoring people. I knew that after Spidey I would have to really up my game.

- Why did you choose this Star Wars character?

I'm a massive Star Wars fan, and everybody knows the character. Whether you enjoy the films or not, if you see a Storm Trooper you know it's a Storm Trooper. I'm also an ex soldier so it's nice to be back in uniform again (haha).

TKUK has provided his armour free of charge.

- Why for Autism all Stars? 

My 2 children, Liam and Lucy are diagnosed with Autism. Autism all stars are a local charity who help and support families living with Autism. They have ĺots of advice and help online and put on autism friendly cinema clubs and various events in and around the area. I love that I can support them in what they do. Being a smaller charity you really know that every donation is making a difference.

- How was the process to create this uniform for running a race?

I actually really under estimated how much work was needed to get this Armour race ready. David Ashcroft at TKUK  provided me the armour free of charge to help me support my cause. Fully assembled these sell for £800 up so you can imagine how much it meant to me getting given one. I've had to make a lot of adjustments and then test run and then adjust the adjustments again. We are almost there.

- Is it the first time you try a similar challenge?

I have run as Spiderman previously, which at the time I thought was super tough....This is another level. I know the crowds are going to love it, which is what it's all about.

Photo of a Dave's training in a park.

- How is being the training in the stormtrooper skin?

I've absolutely loved the training runs. So many people taking photographs and tooting from cars. It's made it so much fun. I've suffered some cuts and bruises along the way but will all be fixed by the main event.

- What is your fears about the costume: the hot inside, the stiffness, the breathability...?

I knew it was going to be hot inside the armour. It's solid plastic so isn't very forgiving when it comes to movement or allowing air in. The good thing is that I'm not running to get my best time so I can enjoy the event and the crowds.

- What is the people reaction when they spot a stormtrooper training like a normal runner?

Some literally freeze and just go woah as you run past whilst others want photographs and high fives. I love the reactions of motorists. Big grins and lots of beeping the horn. Several people have pulled over to get pictures and one person actually put £20 in my hand whilst I was running.

- Have you considered in beating the Guinness World Record for the fastest person to run a marathon dressed as a Star Wars character? (The record time is 4.59.12 and was reached by Jez Allinson at London Marathon 2017).

Yes, I actually went to apply but there is a lot to do when it comes to proving the attempt. You either need to film the entire event showing the costume or have two witnesses to prove that you didn't cheat etc. I'll see how it goes this time and then have a think about it. It would be amazing to be a World Record Holder. I've actually chatted with Jez. He's a lovely guy and is doing some fantastic work for Charity.

Dave finishing the Brighton Marathon in 2016.

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