A Londoner with an incurable lung condition will become the first man to run the London Marathon with an oxygen tank.
Diven Halai, 37, was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease (IDL) in 2020 – leaving him struggling to climb a flight of stairs without running out of breath.
The condition causes stiffness in the lungs which makes it difficult to breathe and get oxygen to the bloodstream.
Mr Halai, an estimator from Harrow, had previously lived an active lifestyle and would run ten miles every weekend but began to suffer coughing fits after completing simple tasks in summer 2019. It took over a year for him to be diagnosed with IDL and start treatment due to delays caused by successive Covid lockdowns.
He was started on a course of chemotherapy to slow down the progression of the disease and provided an oxygen tank in August last year. Six months ago, he signed up for the London Marathon to help raise money for the Asthma + Lung charity - and has since raised over £15,000.
“I had a discussion with my wife and she said ‘if you think you can do it’ then go for it. I feel like it could be my last chance, because if my condition gets worse I won’t get another opportunity,” he told the Standard ahead of Sunday’s race.
“My whole attitude has been positive throughout my training, even though it’s not easy covering long distances with a 7kg oxygen tank! My message to myself has just been: ‘keep going’.”
Mr Halai will have three assistants along the 26-mile route to help re-fill the oxygen tank. Though he plans to walk rather than run, he has set himself a goal of finishing within 8 hours.
“I can’t wait to see my family and friends at the end. I’ve got the drive to finish it – I just want to get across that finish line,” he added.
If you are inspired by Diven’s story and would like to take part in the London Marathon for Asthma + Lung Uk next year, go to: https://www.blf.org.uk/take-action/challenge-yourself/run/london-marathon-2023