'Big Rossi' takes first step towards London Marathon with Ultimate Athletics UAE

Ajit Vijaykumar 16:28 02/03/2019
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'Big Rossi' with Ultimate Athletics coach Matthew Ashton. Images: [email protected]

Ultimate Athletics UAE is the place to be if you want to be a professional athlete and aim to reach the next level.

Track athletes test their abilities and then raise their level under the watchful eyes of experts at the Academy week in, week out.

But can anyone take up the challenge of preparing and then competing in a major competition?

Virgin Radio Dubai’s ‘Big Rossi’ has undertaken a huge challenge – competing in the Virgin Money London Marathon on April 28. And helping him in his quest is Ultimate Athletics UAE founder Lisa Campbell.

For starters, ‘Big Rossi’ had never ran competitively before and he has accepted an offer from Virgin and Ultimate Athletics sponsors New Balance to compete at the event in the UK, along with Virgin Radio Dubai’s head of programming Alex Agishev – aka ‘The crazy Russian Boss’ – and Ultimate Athletics coach Matthew Ashton, who is coaching ‘Big Rossi’.

The journey isn’t easy and ‘Big Rossi’ had to shed a few kilos to begin the arduous journey towards marathon fitness. Inner Fight and Dubai fitness guru Marcus Smith has helped ‘Big Rossi’ lose up to 9 kilos so far.

Getting miles in the legs are equally important and Ultimate Athletics Racenight in Dubai Sports City on Thursday was the first competitive race – 3,000m – that ‘Big Rossi’ took part in. He had participated in the Dubai Marathon 4km Fun Run but this was the real deal. It was the first step towards gradually increasing the workload towards the full 42k for the marathon.

Athletes after the 3k run at Ultimate Athletics Racenight in Dubai along with 'Big Rossi'. Image: Melissa@melissalear.com

Athletes after the 3k run at Ultimate Athletics Racenight in Dubai along with ‘Big Rossi’ and Lisa Campbell. Image: [email protected]

“I have spent 37 years living an unhealthy lifestyle. I would have mood swings. Now I have got two kids. I just want to be fit,” ‘Big Rossi’ explained after completing his 3k run along with coach Ashton.

“Looking at photos of myself at the RedFestDXB, I was unhappy with how I looked. So I decided to make a change.”

It’s a gradual process and he took his first proper step on Thursday. But the marathon is still some way away and ‘Big Rossi’ will work with Ultimate Athletics on a weekly basis, gradually increasing the distances.

“My aim is to go 20 miles without stopping. Ultimately, I want to show that if I can do it, so can anyone,” ‘Big Rossi’ added.

‘Big Rossi’ will also step up his training by attending the weekly New Balance Run Club and doing long runs with coach Ashton. The task is only going to get tougher as ‘Big Rossi’ needs to compete in 10k, 15k and half marathon races before April 28.

His first event on Thursday was outside his target time – he wanted to finish each kilometre in five minutes i.e. a time of 15mins for the 3k. His finish time on Racenight was 15:21.

But with dedication and expert guidance, no challenge is too difficult. Just ask ‘Big Rossi’ and Ultimate Athletics.

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