Former vicar’s barefoot 10k for charity

Roger Gibbard will do the Wigan 10k barefoot to raise money for Swap
Roger Gibbard will do the Wigan 10k barefoot to raise money for Swap

Running shoes may seem like an essential item for many people taking part in the Wigan 10k - but not for Roger Gibbard.

For the former vicar will tackle the fifth annual race next month in his bare feet.

It seems to me particularly appropriate to run barefoot for Swap because many of the people we support have left stuff at a moment’s notice

Roger Gibbard

Mr Gibbard, 69, has completed the race twice before, as well as the inaugural Wigan half marathon in March, all without shoes.

And this time he is taking on the challenge to raise money for Swap (Support for Wigan Arrivals Project), which supports asylum seekers and refugees in the borough.

He has volunteered with the organisation for several years and wants to provide a financial boost.

Mr Gibbard, who lives in Swinley, said: “I have been running barefoot for some time. It seems to me particularly appropriate to run barefoot for Swap because many of the people we support have left stuff at a moment’s notice. Compared to that, running barefoot is nothing.

“It’s a statement that sometimes you have to leave things behind and it’s still okay.”

Mr Gibbard has been running barefoot for about eight years and prefers to only wear shoes if he needs to.

He says feet are “amazingly well designed for walking and running on” and he takes a first aid kit just in case he needs it.

So he is not worried about pounding the roads of Wigan without running shoes during the race.

He said: “You just have to be aware of what you are running on and avoid things like glass.

“The 10k, like the half marathon, is on quite a good route. It’s always along roads or tarmac so that’s no problem.

“I just look out for the odd bit of rubbish or odd bit of glass. It’s very doable.”

Mr Gibbard was previously vicar at St Michael’s And All Angel’s Church in Swinley and prison chaplain at both Hindley and Risley.

He has been a volunteer supporter for Friendly Faces mentoring project and then Swap for more than 15 years.

He helps out in different ways, including with English courses and gardening.

He is aiming to raise £500 for Swap, which would go to a discretionary fund to help people in need.

To sponsor Mr Gibbard, go to www.swapwigan.org or call 01942 516572.

The Wigan 10k will be held on Sunday, September 3.

Register at www.wigan10k.co.uk.