Wednesday, June 29, 2022
NewsLong Covid sufferer completes 66-mile cycle in Scotland

Long Covid sufferer completes 66-mile cycle in Scotland

A NORTHERN Irishman who suffered serious ramifications due to “long Covid” has completed a 66-mile cycle in Inverness.

63-year-old Gerard McLarnon from Randalstown, County Antrim, has successfully completed the Etape Loch Ness 2022 after a long battle with Covid-19.

Gerard was hospitalised for 70 days, and was left having to learn how to walk, talk and swallow again.

Completing the Etape Loch Ness this weekend was an achievement for both Gerard and the Creggan Wheelers, the cycle club in Randalstown that he says has played a big part in his recovery.

Gerard McLarnon
Gerard carried oxygen cylinders on his back along the 66-mile route. Image: Malcolm McCurrach | New Wave Images UK

Speaking about completing the 66-mile cycle sportive, Gerard said: “This is a really emotional day for me.

“I had planned to do the Etape Loch Ness along with my fellow riders in Creggan Wheelers back in 2020 and had been training for it.

“Then I was admitted to hospital on March 31st where I was to remain for 70 days.

“I firmly believe that training for the Etape in 2020 saved my life.

“Had I not had that level of fitness to fight Covid, it would have been a different story.”

Gerard’s younger brothers John and Dominic joined him for the Etape, part of the team of 14 from the Creggan Wheelers.

John said: “There were many times when Gerard was in hospital in Belfast that we were told he wasn’t going to make it, so to see him complete the Etape today is absolutely incredible.”

The event organisers arranged for Gerard to have regular oxygen along the route which he carried on his back.

Gerard said: “Although I am pretty much back to normal, I do still need oxygen for intense physical activity like cycling.

“I am grateful to the organisers for assisting me and I am indebted to and proud of my fellow Creggan Wheelers who stuck by me today, as they have over the last two years.”

When asked about his next challenge, Gerard said: “This was the big one for me and it shows how far I have come.

“The final stage of recovery will be losing the oxygen supply – that is my next goal, but I know I have to be patient.”

Etape Loch Ness is Scotland’s largest closed road cycle sportive.

The sportive offers the chance to cycle 66 miles on traffic free roads. The route starts and finishes in Inverness.

A record number of 6,100 cyclists signed up for the Etape Loch Ness 2022.

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