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At 81-year-old, Keith ‘the rabbit’ Ashton spends most of his time either lifting weights or running long distances.
Prior to the pandemic, Ashton had completed his first full-length marathon.
His active ways, however, came to a screeching halt last March when Ashton tested positive for COVID-19.
“What starts to happen is you start to feel very, very weak,” said Ashton, originally from Manchester, England but now calls Victoria home. “You’re listless, you can’t be bothered to do anything, everything is just too much trouble.”
After twelve nights in hospital where he lost nearly thirty pounds and saw his blood oxygen levels drop significantly, Ashton was released and began the long road to recovery.
“It would walk a block, run a block, walk a block, run a block,” said Ashton, who’s friends call him ‘the rabbit’ because of his excitement towards running, particularly his fast starts.
Slowly but surely, the rabbit got his bounce back. Ashton worked with personal trainers and rejoined his running group which helped keep him motivated.
“It is crazy remarkable, it’s incredible,” said Connie Robertson, Keith’s running coach. “It’s beautiful because it just shows you resilience.”
“We inspire each other,” said Ashton in regards to his running groupmates. “We support each other, we encourage each other, we all have bad days and it’s on those bad days that the people around you keep you going.”
In addition to recovering from COVID-19, Ashton also had another setback in November 2020 when he experienced chest pains during a run.
“It was a heart issue,” said Ashton, who was once again hospitalized and received stents in his heart.
He’s since been given approval from his doctor to resume his usual activities. Despite the scary incident, Ashton is undeterred on his path to keep running.
This Saturday, the retired vice-principal is set to run a half marathon, aiming to raise funds for Victoria Hospital’s Acuity Care unit.
“The medical people there was exemplary, I couldn’t have asked for better treatment,” said Ashton, who recovered from COVID-19 in the Acuity Care unit at Royal Jubilee Hospital.
“Well I’m very proud of him,” said Andrea Ashton, Keith’s wife of fifty three years. “He gets out here, he runs, and he’s happy.”
He’s a man who refuses to quit, demonstrating the immeasurable power of the human spirit.
“He’s a pretty amazing man, pretty special,” said Robertson.
Ashton says after he completes the half marathon on Saturday, which he aims to wrap up around 10:45AM at Mile Zero Monument, he plans on training for his second full marathon in the near future.
“Onward and upward I suppose is the way of putting it.”
To donate to Ashton’s running fundraiser, click here.