BUDDING fundraiser David Walsh attracted some strange glares while training at the gym.
It was not because the 33-year-old was wearing tight Lycra shorts, grunting excessively or blaring out loud music from his headphones.
Instead, the teaching assistant at Phoenix High School, in Shepherd's Bush, left fellow exercise junkies baffled by running backwards on the treadmill.
It was all part of his training for a charity run with a difference around Finsbury Park.
Mr Walsh ran two miles backwards around the north London park on March 6 to raise awareness of ACTSA, a campaigning organisation fighting for development, democracy and human rights in southern Africa and help him prepare for the London Marathon next month.
He said: "I ran backwards to show that it is not always a race to be first. I was inspired by a story of a group of African children who refused to let one child win a race but instead waited for each other so that they all completed the journey.
"I had been getting some funny looks at the gym when I was running backwards on the treadmill. I think a few people thought I was crazy and stayed away from me.
"Funnily enough, it is not as difficult to run backwards as you might think. I recommend everyone to give it a go.
"At first it feels odd but I think you develop a sixth sense and pick it up quite quickly. The park was very busy and a lot of people were watching and asking me what I was doing and why and that was the whole point.
"The one awkward moment came when I overtook an elderly guy out running properly and I don't think he was too impressed.
"Most people didn't bat an eyelid. It shows that nothing surprises Londoners any more. They have seen it all."
Mr Walsh will switch back to the normal mode of running for the Marathon next month to raise money for ACTSA after visiting under-developed countries like Swaziland and Zimbabwe himself in recent years.
He said: "I am running the Marathon for ACTSA because I know the difference that campaigning in this country can make to the lives of people in southern Africa."
To donate to David's Marathon challenge visit www.justgiving.co.uk/dave-does-it .