Here's champion you won’t see at the Olympics — the world’s fastest backwards runner. Garret Doherty, 33, can cover a mile in just over seven minutes and has been crowned world champion three years on the trot. Garret got hooked on the bizarre sport three years ago after turning around during a jog to avoid the sun. He found he could run nearly as fast backwards as he could forwards — and claims it has transformed his life. Garret, from Dublin, said: “Backwards running is like a drug — once you start, you’ll never want to run forwards again.
“It’s truly liberating, and there are enormous health benefits. It’s much better for your body than running forwards, as it is lower impact. People usually do a double take when they see me whizzing past. I’m always getting passers-by shouting at me, telling me I’m going the wrong way.” Speaking of how he started running backwards during a jog, he said: “The sun was so bright I had to turn away, but I didn’t want to turn round and go home. I just thought I’d try facing the other direction and running backwards for a while — and it was great.
“My body felt much better after running backwards as well, and I researched backwards running properly. I couldn’t believe how many people around the world were into it — and there were so many competitions to enter.” Last last month, he finished the Wexford half marathon in 1hr 40min. Garret has even given up his job as a bicycle rickshaw operator to tour schools in a bid to convert children to backwards running. And he said the health benefits are great, adding: “You burn three times as many calories running backwards as running forwards, as it uses a lot more muscles.
“You land on the correct part of your feet, which helps your ligaments and ankle bones. In forwards running, your feet land heel to toe — but when you run backwards it’s the other way round, which is how you’re supposed to run, the same way as you would barefoot. And instead of the muscles in your lower back getting the workout, it’s the muscles in your lower abdomen that are worked the hardest. If it wasn’t for people being too embarrassed to run backwards, it would be a lot better for everyone to do it.” Garret is now getting ready to defend his title at the UK backwards running championships in Manchester later today.