Darin’s story should serve as inspiration to others

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At the beginning of last year, Darin McCloud weighed 20 stone and too much high-fat fast food had left him with diabetes.

The traffic warden from Portsmouth was unhappy at being so big, but his way of tackling the problem was to try to put on even more weight so that he would get a gastric band operation.

He’d been told by NHS Portsmouth that he wasn’t heavy enough to qualify, so in desperation he gorged himself on junk food so doctors would be forced to help him lose weight.

Fast forward to Sunday and the same Darin McCloud joined thousands of other runners to take part in the London Marathon.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Darin has completely transformed his life and his story should serve as an inspiration to all those people out there who are overweight and unfit but are not sure how to tackle the problem.

As he says: ‘I would like to say if people want to do something, they should set that goal. They should achieve it, no matter what it is. I want people to read my story and realise they can do it.’

In Darin’s case, he realised that he needed to address his relationship with food and start getting fit.

The results have been spectacular. He ate more healthily, began to go out walking, then running and lost six stone.

At the weekend, all that effort paid off when Darin crossed the marathon finish line in 6hrs, 27mins 41secs.

But time and position were irrelevant. For Darin, it was all about the achievement.

He should be very proud of himself, as indeed should all the runners from this area who trained hard and then took on the challenge of completing the 26-mile course, raising many thousands of pounds for charity in the process.

The death of runner Claire Squires, who collapsed during the marathon, was a tragedy and our hearts go out to her family and friends.

But we must also remember what a powerful force for good and celebration of human spirit that this event has become.