Wesley van der Gouw is one of the national top athletes (long distance). On his Twitter account he describes himself as ‘Waalwijker and proud to be gay’. What does Movember mean to the gay community and what does it mean to himself? In a fourty minutes interview he gives all his answers.
The man Wesley van der Gouw
Seven years ago Wesley started running at the age of 23, after his friends had invited him to join them. Soon he realised he was good at it and started winning games. That was the start of his running career and also meant the end of his studies.
“I’ve never felt sorry about it. Running and studying were just too hard to combine. I’ve run European Cups and was second in the Netherlands at the 10,000 meters run. Then you know you’ll need a 100% focus on that,” he explains.
“Chances are that I will pick up my studies – or at least work in that field – after the age of fourty. Now I’m combining running with my part time job at PostNL which is fine.”
Wesley started running professionally at a relatively late age. “I obviously knew at school already that I was a good runner, but only at a later age I realised that I was good enough to run at such a high level.”
The importance of participating
According to Wesley prostate cancer occurs quite often in his field of business and that’s why he finds it important to give attention to men’s health. “In my opinion there should be more awareness for men’s health. Women – justifiably – get a lot of attention, but even men can get terrible diseases. That starts at a young age and continues for as long as you’ll live.”
So what can people do to live a healthier life? “I think it starts with eating better. What you put in your mouth can affect your physical and mental health. But also moving. If you move for 30 minutes every day, toxic energy will leave your body and that will make your body and mind become healthier.”
Do you get help doing that as a professional athlete? “Yes, but I obviously try to eat as natural as possible. Two hundred grams of vegetables, two hundred grams of fruit. But sometimes it’s okay to just eat something you like. I often hear that beet juice can cause cancer. Well, I’ve looked it up. You’ll really need to drink a lot of that beet juice then! Just make sure you’ll do everything with moderation, then you’ll be fine.”
Movember and the gay community
Wesley’s Twitter account says ‘proud to be gay’; what does Movember mean to the gay community? “Homosexuals are just more susceptible to diseases, like for instance AIDS. That’s a disease that you don’t just see with homosexuals, because also heterosexuals can get it, but it is a real danger. Luckily you can get tested once every six months. You just need to go to the GGD (health institution) and within five minutes you’re done. Within a week you’ll hear if everything is fine. Even if it’s not, there are many treatments possible these days.
When homosexual men are much more used to visit the GGD compared to straight men, would they also visit a GP more easily and discover bad things like prostate and testicular cancer?
“I wish it was that simple. All men want to be touch and find going to GP’s tough. Why is that? That’s just how we are. Men that are training generally over score their targets, but may then get injuries easier than women or may not start at the starting line with their normal energy levels.”
Do you think this will change? “Movember is at least trying hard. But thinking of your health only once a year is not enough of course. Maybe you should combine it with New Year’s resolutions, so people start with good health at the start of the year. There must be more moments in a year like that, that I can’t think of right now.”
And if sexually transmitted infections (STI) are so common among men, while they don’t want to see a GP for this, shouldn’t STI’s be part of Movember then? “They actually should be. Luckily you can do a lot these days with a pill. If you take it, you will at least not be able to transmit it, but you’ll need to keep taking the ‘cocktail’ for a while. On the website Van Man tot Man you can find information about STI’s and where you can get tested. In the past I’ve been part of their advertising efforts, and I’ve been on posters around the city.”
The Movember Run Amsterdam
This is the first time you’re joining. What do you expect from the Movember Run Amsterdam? “I’m really looking forward. People are joining to have some good fun, so I expect a lot of cheerful faces. It’s a great way to get attention for men’s health. In any case, Vondelpark is a great location in Amsterdam. I’m hoping for a big audience, because then people will start talking about it and it will be an even bigger event next year. For runners this is really important.”
Will Wesley be the new winner?
Last year Pim Evers managed to run the Movember Run Amsterdam in 00:18:57. Will you beat that and win the Movember Run Amsterdam this year? “I truly hope so! I should be able to do it in 15 minutes. But actually, that’s not even important. I think it’s far more important that it will be a great afternoon at Vondelpark. I hope it will be really busy with a big audience!”
And so do we! So if you haven’t registered yet, do it now on our registration page . Looking forward to seeing you on the 29th of November!
Photography Kees Snepvangers