From running in competition to running push wheelchair

Gerrit is a passionate runner from the Netherlands. After a professional career, he now runs for leisure. The former European half-marathon champion has chosen to share his passion with people with disabilities, whom he regularly takes to Hippocampe Marathon and Trail. Discover its history.

Gerrit and the entire Vipamat team dedicate this article to Falco. 🌠

Hello Gerrit, Can you present yourself ?

“Hi, my name is Gerrit Voortman and I am 59 years old. When I was child, both my parents were runners and it was quickly clear to me that I wanted to do this. I used to go to the races with my parents and I also ran one of the shorter distances. And during the weeks I often went into the woods with Dad to train.”

Running and passion

“Running is my daily activity. I used to try to run as fast as possible until 2004. Playful in the beginning, but this soon turned into some competition-oriented training. I liked this to try to and get the best out of myself. Now I try to enjoy it as much as possible and the speed is no longer important. I still run about 10 times and 150 kilometres per week.”

Running push wheelchair

“Because we don’t have any children of our own and acquaintances had a disabled child, we wanted to support them with their son Falco. He came to stay with us on a regular basis since he was a baby. When Falco stayed with us and I went to train, I often took him with me in his wheelchair. He loved these moments together.

By exercising a lot with Falco, the question arose whether I also wanted to do this with more children. I work in healthcare in an environment where I am in contact with disabled clients three days a week. I started running with them. That is still what I’m trying now. to get as many clients as possible moving, even if some are wheelchair bound.”

running with wheelchair

Run with Hippocampe Marathon

“I myself had already converted a sport wheelchair into a running push wheelchair for Falco. I took this with me at work to be able to run with other clients. I then had the opportunity to purchase a Hippocampe Marathon and Trail wheelchair for the clients to participate to running.

After having ran with a normal wheelchair for years, it was a very pleasant surprise for me and therefore an improvement. So the transition went very easy!”

Gerrit and the Hippocampe wheelchair today

“Today it is a valued addition for the clients to go outside a little more. I can safely say that running with a Hippocampe wheelchair is very easy for me. Of course it works differently than when you’re not running with a wheelchair. But I’m so used to it that it takes no effort and I enjoy taking clients with me during my run.  I run three days a week at work with the wheelchair Marathon and then switch with different clients in between.

Unfortunately, I no longer use the Marathon wheelchair on the weekends, sadly Falco passed away a short while ago. I would have liked to run another marathon with Falco, but unfortunately that will never be possible again… 🌠”

A Hope message

I want to try to show that disabled people can often do more than both they and their environment think.  For me, The pleasure that the people have during a run gives me new energy every day to be able to do this. Just seeing the smiles and the pleasure I can give them, to me is worth more than gold.

It’s even more powerful when you participate in an event with the Hippocampe Marathon and Trail and when you see public reactions. This is very satisfying.

10 KM Record : 00:29:53   
10 KM Record with Hippocampe : 00:40

Half-Marathon Record  : 01:06:29           
Half-Marathon Record with Hippocampe : 01:26

Record Marathon : 02:21:33