With World Autism Awareness Day rapidly approaching, endurance athlete ‘Super’ Sam Holness, who has Autism, is set to take on Manchester’s best runners at the UK’s largest spring marathon.
In celebration of Autism Awareness Day, 29-year-old Sam is hoping to break the three-hour mark for the first time, which would put him in the top three per cent of finishers at the event based on last year’s results.
Although achieving his sub three-hour goal would be a bonus, Sam has entered the event as part of his preparation to become the first openly autistic triathlete to complete a full Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a full marathon) later this year.
Over 13,000 runners are expected to take part in the Manchester Marathon on Sunday 3rd April, making it one of the biggest events in the running calendar and the UK’s largest spring marathon.
“I love to run,” said Sam. “But the Manchester Marathon is going to be a bit special for me.
“As the marathon falls the day after Autism Awareness Day, I have a responsibility to try extra hard.
“I am running it for all the autistic people out there who feel like they can’t do it. I want to show them what is possible.
After the event, Sam, who lives in Kingston, London, will be flying to Frankfurt in June where he will be the first openly autistic triathlete to race a full Ironman event.
Through his passion for athletics, Sam hopes to inspire more people facing challenges around autism and neurodiversity to take up sport and achieve their dreams, like his of becoming a professional endurance athlete. A dream he is well on his way to thanks to the support of global sports brands like Manchester Marathon sponsor Hoka.
“I want to show people that my autism doesn’t affect my sport,” Sam added. “Anyone can pull on some shoes and go for a run.”
Sam first set his sights on becoming a professional sports person in 2019 and has been training full-time with his father and coach Tony Holness ever since.
“Two years ago, we didn’t even dream of this,” Tony said.
“We have been on a journey ever since and are now coming to great events like the Manchester Marathon, looking to break a time that most neurotypical athletes can only dream of.”
When Sam was growing up, his parents instilled a culture of health and exercise. He was always active.
This led to Sam studying sports science at St Mary’s University, with a focus on engaging and managing autism in sport. It was this experience that inspired Sam and Tony to take his triathlon to the next level.
Tony added: “Sam really is capable of achieving incredible results. But sport to Sam is more than just the podium.
“If Sam can inspire others to take up sport and raise awareness of autism – that is a huge part of our mission.
“Sam is my hero. He’s dedicated to his sport and focused on doing his best at everything in a way that even professional athletes struggle to do in terms of time and drive. What more could you ask for as a father and coach?”
To find out more about Sam and his Manchester Marathon adventure follow Sam on Instagram @samholnesstri.