This article was written for Fethiye Times by Sian Midgley
Have you ever sat down with an almost complete stranger, chatted for a while, then walked away totally awed by the person you’ve just met?
Well that happened to me when I met Peter Simpson.
Those of you who religiously read all the Fethiye Times articles will know him as the fella who cycled from the UK to Üzümlü last year in aid of Race for Life – at the impressive age of 72 years young.
But I wanted to get to know the real Peter; the man behind the guy who can run between Çalış and Üzümlü without breaking a sweat before most of us have had our breakfast and put our teeth in.
So Who Is Peter Simpson?
Peter hails from Rugby, studied in Liverpool and met his very patient wife, Rosie, over 40 years ago whilst they were both working as Probation Officers. He has a brother in Japan and another near Rugby. He is father to two children – Katy in the UK and Paul in The Netherlands, and has three grand children.
He first started dividing his time between the UK and Turkey when he and Rosie came to Turkey on a property viewing tour fourteen years ago. Although they had plans to see a few areas, as soon as they saw Üzümlü their hearts melted and they’ve never looked back.
Where Did It All Start?
But where did this urge to run, walk and cycle his way through life come from?
He ran at school but his first major adventure started the day after his eighteenth birthday, in 1966, when he decided to cycle to Greece and back. Why? He’d studied the Classics at school so was interested in Greece and because, well, because it was there and it was as good a place to go as any. He booked youth hostels for his first week and then camped unless he was in a big city. He gave himself the princely sum of £1 per day to live on and completed the round trip in 65 days. His most prominent memory of the journey is of cycling across the German border just as England won the World Cup.
Since then he’s cycled to Turkey, as mentioned before, as well as many other places including along a section of the Danube, and taken part in numerous triathlons and Ironman competitions.
And in case you still aren’t impressed, to date he’s completed 267 marathons – some of which were ultra marathons and trail runs. Plus he ran a downhill marathon in October this year, again for Race For Life, which started at 1500m altitude at Tuzla Beli and finished 42km later near the Çatalarık Animal Shelter.
His most difficult challenge was taking part in a 48 hour track race, covering 174 miles. But the effort paid off as he won the accolade of ‘British All Time Best’ and ‘World Third All Time Best’. Oh, and did I mention that this was in the over 65’s category? Amazing.
Tales To Tell
I asked Peter if he had any funny (and not so funny) stories and, well, I could probably write a book with what he told me. He’s been arrested at an airport for carrying a banana in his pocket through customs, he and Rosie missed the Kars tourist train because the departure time had been moved forward by three hours – but in a typical action movie moment they got a cab to chase the train and joined it later on, a tube train he was on went straight under where the King’s Cross fire was taking place but he was none the wiser …the list goes on.
The most poignant story, and the one that could have set him on a completely different path, happened when he was in his 40’s – he was riding a motorbike down the M6 when a lorry swerved into him whilst trying to avoid a pheasant. He crashed into the central reservation and subsequently broke his leg. Unfortunately, whilst in hospital, he picked up an infection in the bone and eight months after the accident he still wasn’t any better. Talk turned to amputation. Rosie went berserk and, because of her relentless insistence, they found a new consultant who cut out all the infected bone from his leg and replaced it with a bone graft from his hip. Needless to say, in true Peter style, fifteen months later he took part in, and finished, the centenary Boston Marathon.
So what’s next for the man who has achieved so much? Well he’d like to continue the cycle along the Danube, tour the countries along the Silk Road and see more of Turkey.
But most of all he wants to complete a marathon as near to the 13th May 2022 as he can – exactly fifty years after he ran his first one. And we all know nothing is going to stop him doing that don’t we?