In November 2017, I started getting into my running through parkrun and continued to build up my distance and improve my times. I loved it so much that in a moment of madness I signed up for a half marathon and the 2019 London Marathon, something I’d always dreamed of doing. But less than a year later, I became a wheelchair user and the marathon was put on the back burner. I couldn’t push my chair more than 10 metres to start with because my arms were so weak but one of my physios said I could try the marathon in my wheelchair.
Fast forward to April 2019, I lined up on the start line with 50,000 runners ready to complete the London Marathon. It went really well and more importantly I loved every single minute of it and went on to complete a few more half’s and a further marathon.
Last year I should have been doing 4 marathons (including Manchester) as well as having a place for the Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa, one of the few ultras I’m allowed to take part in as a wheelchair user. Obviously, everything was cancelled due to COVID-19 and I struggled with motivation to go out training. During lockdown I signed up for a virtual 1000km event. It started as motivation to go out but I’m quite competitive and ended up completing the race twice, the first time in 16 days and the second in 17 days with a day’s rest in between. I surprised myself at my body’s capability, for so long I was frustrated that it didn’t function ‘properly’ but now I could feel and show what it could do, averaging over 60km a day as well as completing two 100-milers ‘for fun’.
All my friends think I’m crazy and they’re probably right but running has become such an important part of my life. It’s the only sport I have been able to continue since becoming a wheelchair user and it gives me a sense of freedom away from the challenges of having a disability.
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