AT7 member tackles Everest, completes Cov Half Marathon AND wins rowing competition in space of two weeks

A Coventry man who had a knee replacement in March recently undertook a stunning trilogy of challenges.

Ivans Garbacevics, aged 42, has always enjoyed staying fit and active, but the past month has been particularly unique even for him.

The logistics warehouse operative travelled to Nepal in October to tackle Everest before returning to the city to run the Coventry Half Marathon. But he didn’t finish there – the fitness fanatic beat off stiff competition to win a local rowing competition, all in the space of two weeks.

The feat was made all the more difficult midway through the half marathon when Ivans suffered a meniscus tear in his knees, leaving him hobbling to the finish line.

Despite his injuries, he went on to finish off a rowing challenge hosted at Centre AT7, managing to row the most miles of any member during the month of October.

Ivans said: “I like a challenge, I’m very ambitious and quite competitive. I’d hiked Everest Camp Base before but I caught a cold because it was -18 degrees. So I did it again and this time I took a different route. 

“I’d registered for the Coventry Half Marathon, which I’d also done before, and took part in that just as I got back.

“I’d prepared by taking part in the rowing challenge and the Cov Half was on just before the challenge came to an end. 

“On the day of the marathon I was 10K ahead of the closest person, who was another member called Sanjay – I had met him during the challenge and we became friends, spurring each other on.

“My plan was to finish off the rowing challenge after the marathon but after running 8KM I tore the meniscus in my knees.”

Ivans running the Coventry Half Marathon

The injury meant Ivans had to dig deep to be able to finish the race.

He said: “My knees went on 8KM, so I had to finish the rest of the 21KM hardly able to walk – but I wasn’t going to quit.

“I was going slowly, lots of people were overtaking me. I was in so much pain but I just couldn’t stop, I had to finish – especially because my car was near the finish line!”

Ivans finished the half marathon despite his injuries in a still impressive 2 hours, 31 minutes and 16 seconds.

Despite being 10KM ahead in the rowing challenge at Centre AT7, Ivans assumed Sanjay would overtake with a day still left.

Ivans hobbled to the leisure centre, where he’s been a member for two years, to grimace through the final stretch of rowing. There he met Sanjay, who upon seeing his friend’s injuries, withdrew from the competition in a true show of friendly sportsmanship, allowing Ivans to win the competition, the prize for which included a month’s free membership.

Ivans and Sanjay after the marathon at Centre AT7

Simon Blay is Operations Coordinator for CV Life, the organisation which runs AT7 – he hailed Ivans’ “determination and grit” to complete the challenges

Simon said: “The fact Ivans has managed to achieve these feats in such a short space of time is really impressive.

“He’d have my admiration to do just one of these challenges, but to do all three, with a fairly recent knee replacement, picking up a serious injury along the way, in just two weeks is incredible. It really shows the sheer determination and grit of Ivans’ character.

“We’ve been running these kind of challenges for sometime now as part of our Wellbeing initiative. We find that adding that competitive element with prizes really engages members and motivates them to keep going.

“But it also gets members engaging with one another which in turn it can create friendships, like we’ve seen with Ivans and Sanjay – seeing the sacrifice made by Sanjay really highlights the sportsmanship and camaraderie this kind of thing inspires.”