Published: 19 September 2023

A mountain bike enthusiast, who says he owes his life to the Wales Air Ambulance, is throwing on his trainers to take part in the Cardiff Half Marathon next month. 

Jonathan Bainbridge will compete in the 13.1-mile race on Sunday, 1 October to raise money for the Charity that airlifted him to hospital after he fell off his bike and landed on a rock, where he not only lost his teeth but suffered facial injuries, a fractured jaw and was also hypothermic.

Jonathan, 44, had been camping with friends in Nant Peris in North Wales for a weekend of mountain biking and had gone to Coed y Brenin for the day to complete the Red Bull and MBR trails.

After lunch, his friends decided they'd had enough riding for the day, so Jonathan headed out alone but unfortunately came off his bike at high speed.

It took six people to carry Jonathan down the singletrack decent on a spine board to a football pitch where the Wales Air Ambulance was waiting to airlift him to hospital. 

Jonathan said: “At the time, I remember I was actually riding better and enjoying myself more than I ever had. About halfway around the trail I came to a downhill singletrack section ironically named 'False Teeth' and I remember coming across a drop off unexpectedly at highspeed. 

“My weight was too far forward and as I flew off the drop off, I landed on my front wheel.  With my weight too far forward, I couldn't control the bike and I went over the handlebars landing chin first on a rock.

“I remember crawling to the edge of the trail where I was found dazed by two fellow cyclists who came down the trail after me, I believe they were husband and wife and pharmacists. As I lay there, one of them lay in front of me and one behind me, hugging me to keep me warm, while another cyclist who was passing by rode off to the visitor’s centre to get help as no one had phone reception. 

“I was in hospital overnight before going home. As the swelling went down in my mouth in the following weeks, I started to feel something sharp under my tongue. It turned out that I had an open fracture which required surgery.

“I had my jaw wired closed and I couldn't eat solid food, so I learnt to liquidise all my meals. It took months of physio and acupuncture on my jaw, as well as many trips to the dentists to get my teeth repaired before I was back to full health.”

Jonathan, a Senior Human Factors Consultant, who works on the design of new medical devices, said he has never forgotten the exceptional care he received by the Wales Air Ambulance and has been a supporter of the Charity since he had his accident in 2008.  

After his accident the father-of two, who lives in Fairfield near Letchworth Garden City, Bedfordshire, subscribed to the Wales Air Ambulance’s weekly lottery with the intention if he won, he would donate his winnings back.

This year, he challenged himself to run the Cardiff Half Marathon in aid of the Charity after seeing an online advert. 

He said: “I haven't won the lottery yet, but I came across an advert for Cardiff Half Marathon and I was inspired to challenge myself in aid of the Wales Air Ambulance.

“Until I started training, I've never really run, other than trying to complete the NHS couch to 5k program multiple times. Since I decided to run the half marathon it's changed my perspective on running and I now actually really enjoy it. It has been great for my mental and physical health. Perhaps it's because I'm now running with a purpose and for a goal that I believe in. 

“It's been a little tricky at times to fit in my training, with two young children and travelling for work, but with a little planning and many early starts, I've managed to follow my Garmin 13-week training program.”

Jonathan’s wife Charlotte and children Lucy, aged seven, and Tom, aged five, will be cheering him on along the route and he said crossing the line will give him a sense of pride and personal satisfaction. 

He said: “It's taken a lot of hard work and perseverance over the years to get to the point where I'm able to run relatively injury free.  I'm no athlete, and so if I can come from struggling to run for 30 seconds to running a half marathon, anyone can. My children are also excited to see 'daddy' run and they will be there cheering me on, which means the world to me.

“I owe so much to the Wales Air Ambulance, in some ways, my accident was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I used to live and breathe mountain biking, but it took my accident for me to realise that life is short. 

“After my accident I was motivated to make decisions that for years I had put off as I was too scared to make them. I quit my job and cycled around New Zealand and found time in my life for things other than mountain biking and ultimately, marrying my now wife.

“I am so glad the Wales Air Ambulance and other air ambulances, exist and can offer its service whenever and wherever it's needed.  It's due to the talent and extraordinary care of the medics, the wonderful NHS, the kindness of strangers and my friends and family, that I was able to recover and continue to enjoy life and my love of cycling.  I can’t thank them all enough.”

To support Jonathan please visit his Just Giving fundraising page here