He runs with prosthetic legs, as he has a double through-knee congenital amputation. He holds the world record for athletes with a double amputation, in both the full and half marathon. At the 2010 Chicago Marathon, he broke his previous world record for athletes with lower-limb amputations, with a time of 2:42:52.
His earlier career was a swimming teacher at Clifton Leisure Centre in Nottingham.
He is a former ice sledge hockey player, and competed for the Great Britain team at the 2006 Winter Paralympics in Turin. Whitehead was appointed the first-ever patron of Sarcoma United Kingdom, the boneand soft-tissue cancer charity, on 28 January 2013
Richard is also a patron of Gedling Sports Partnership, a charity that promotes sport and Physical Education in the borough of Gedling.
His name was added to the Nottingham City Transport bus service "Pathfinder 100" on 18 September 2012. The bus links his home village of Lowdham with Southwell and Nottingham.
On 21 April 2013 he competed in the London Marathon coming in 23rd place with a time of 3:15:53.
In 2013, he launched his fundraising campaign, "Richard Whitehead Runs Britain", to run from John O"Groats to Land"s End.