Completing the London marathon in 2016 was a fantastic experience and so rewarding and important for many different reasons. The main reason of course, being to raise £4172.25  for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust.

I was told I had Parkinson's disease in 2008, and since then the disease has progressively become worse. I struggle with the different symptoms of Parkinson’s that introduce themselves to me as the years go by, continue to take more and more pills, I am on my fourth neurologist (It’s not me! They leave for ventures new), I am still adjusting my life regularly to keep myself employed, still up for the fight, love learning, and still supporting the Cure Parkinson’s Trust. A charity I completely believe in and support to fund and encourage research into discovering a cure for the disease that so many of us endure.

I had started cycling when I was diagnosed, due to a article on cycling and Parkinson’s disease. In 2012 my wife and I cycled to Paris to raise funds for the Cure Parkinson’s trust. It was a hideously brilliant journey as it rained every day and all the way from Crystal Palace to Paris. The achievement though was fantastic and we both still talk about that adventure and the final tears as we ended our journey under the Eiffel Tower. To run a marathon though, for me, was a complete pipe dream. There is no way I could run a marathon! And that is why I did it. Why do a challenge that would be easy? Although slightly fit, I was not fit enough to run a marathon. It took me a year to train for the marathon. A year of hard graft as I was not a runner! I also suffer from dystonia (my original early Parkinson’s symptom) in my right foot and this was going to be my main barrier to complete a marathon. I knew that the dystonia would kick in every now and again, and thus cause me to stop, disabled by my twisting foot, and then it would eventually return to normal and off I would go again. I therefore believed that to run the marathon and due to the unpredictable nature of my dystonia, would take me between 6 hours and a week – if I was fit enough.

The training for the marathon was hard. As predicted my dystonia would stop my run; I’d then wait and off I would go again once it had gone. My first mile was an achievement. My first five miles was personally fantastic even though it took me a long time of walking, running, limping, and dragging my twisted foot. As I carried on training, and having the odd vigorous sport’s massage, my dystonia’s became less frequent. Granted it didn’t look pretty as I ran, but my stride and gait was improving. Before I started my training I used to park at the entrance to my work. By the end, I was at the farthest point in the car park. People even started to tell me how much better my walking was.

On race day I did not endure an unwelcome dystonia once. I am not sure why, but something happened to take me to the finish line without having to stop due to a twisted foot. Amazing. I cannot say that the race was easy though – it was not. But the crowds and the noise on the way round the course were fantastic. An atmosphere I shall probably never enjoy again. I had friends and sponsor’s tracking where I was on the course on their phones, using a fantastic marathon App that gave an added interest to those who had sponsored me. Running through London, over Tower Bridge, and up The Mall equalled the sense of accomplishment that I had cycling up the Champs-Elysees in 2012. The London crowds cheering and clapping, high fiving and encouraging runners, made the whole event an even greater experience than I would ever have dreamed.

So for me I managed to raise a few quid for The Cure Parkinson’s Trust, raised awareness of Parkinson’s disease, got fit, improved my Parkinson’s symptoms, achieved a fantastic goal, and appreciated the amount of people raising money for other good causes who ran alongside me during the race. Normal people like me, who smiled, joked, limped, cried, groaned , as they ran round London, deep down fuelled on by their cause, to finish with the biggest all encompassing grin as we crossed the finishing line.  

I am no athlete. I am slightly podgy, middle aged and 8 years in with Parkinson disease. I would encourage anyone to do the marathon, or for that matter anything else that is going to push you. Yes my Parkinson’s is still slowly disabling me, but my run has given me confidence, strength, and determination to be in control of my life, and not dictated to by Parkinson’s disease. So taking on a challenge and getting sponsored to fund research to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease is a win win all round. And a final message to those researchers who work in finding that cure? Thank you so much for your work – but please hurry up, my sore feet do not want to endure that again!