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Runner uses GPS art talent to raise funds for spine research charity

A runner with a knack for creating animal-centric GPS art competes in a series of marathons to raise funds for a spine research charity after “one of the most devastating moments” of his life.

Jeric Yuen, 37, who works in web development, is running the Berlin Marathon on September 25th and the New York City Marathon on November 6th to raise money for Spinal Research.

He began helping the charity after an accident in 2018, which he says was “one of the most devastating moments of my life.”

man running
Jeric Yuen (Jeric Yuen/PA)

“I was training hard for the Berlin marathon and three weeks before that I kind of broke my toe and was on crutches for three months,” Mr Yuen, from London, told the PA news agency.

“It took me almost four months to recover – it was one of the most devastating moments of my life going from being super active to being immobilized and seeing people doing things on social media that I couldn’t.

“After I recovered I thought I should give back to the community because I think everyone deserves to be able to stay active and I found out about Spinal Research and have been raising funds for them ever since.”

In order to raise as much money as possible, he has turned his interest in GPS art into a whimsical way of raising awareness of the cause and intends to create more than 55 objects.

t rex
T-Rex drawn by Jeric Yuen (Jeric Yuen/PA)

He is currently 51 years old and started working on the pieces in 2019 during a holiday in Glasgow where he was trying to find a park to walk in and noticed it looked like a human face.

“So I thought maybe I’ll go out and see if I can draw a human face, went out for a run and I was like – wow, it really does look like a human face.

“And then I found another park in Glasgow that looks like a T-Rex and drew that and started thinking about what else I could draw when I get back to London.”

Sausage dog drawn in blue ink
Sausage dog drawn by Jeric Yuen (Jeric Yuen/PA)

Since then he has drawn many animals, including a dachshund, a running bear and an elephant, as well as the Pokémon character Pikachu and even Santa Claus.

He uses the plotaroute website to create the art, which he says is similar to Google Maps.

“You start drawing things and once you have a drawing you can export it to a GPS file to use on your smartwatch or phone,” he added.

He said there’s a lot of work that goes into planning the art, and “what the people behind the scenes don’t see is that there are many, many hours of planning.”

Pikachu drawn in blue ink
Pikachu drawn by Jeric Yuen using an app (Jeric Yuen/PA)

Depending on the size of the drawing, Mr. Yuen can walk as much as 12 to 18 miles, which can take anywhere from four to five hours.

He particularly enjoys doing the art together with other runners in group runs.

“We do the run together, we do the drawings together and it’s really fun for people to see what they drew, they say we drew a chicken or oh I drew a T-Rex,” he said .

Tiger growls towards the camera
Tiger drawn by Jeric Yuen (Jeric Yuen/PA)

He said training for his upcoming marathons has been “ebb and flow” this year, taking him about three to four months, but that he’s looking forward to the New York Marathon as it will be his first visit to the country.

“I’ll just enjoy myself in New York and in Berlin, I’ll try to see if I can reduce my time,” he added.

He will also compete in the London marathon on April 23, 2023 to continue raising funds for spine research.

Almost £700 has been raised from the £1,500 target so far.

For more pictures and information about the fundraiser, please visit this link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jeric-yuen

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