the Bob Graham Round the journey begins


2019 will be a landmark year for me, why? I turn 40 at the end of 2018 so its my first year as a V40 athlete. Exciting, until the reality that V40 is every bit as competitive as senior hits home. No that’s not the reason 2019 is ten years since my diagnosis for Relapsing Remitting MS, the incurable illness that has loomed large over me for a quarter of my time on the planet.

This wasn’t part of my life plan I was a 30 year old fitness fanatic who had recently passed all the tests and had a successful interview to become a whole time firefighter having already been a part time firefighter in Northumberland I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life, my job at the time was industrial refrigeration engineer which would of gave me the opportunity to travel the world (basically making stuff cold on a large scale).

My running which was and still is my main passion had been curtailed overnight having not long previous completed sub 3 hrs for a marathon I was now confined to my house sofa with 2 cats for company, during early illness I remember having a GP appointment to attend and not wanting to put anybody out (also a little of my well known stubborn streak) I decided I would walk around the less than a mile to the surgery I decided to take a shortcut as was getting a little tired so cut through an estate in shiremoor (i’d not planned this and had not brought mandatory kit so no compass or map) getting lost this took a little longer than the original planned route. This was actually far too ambitous, I started to feel funny sensations or even lack of sensation in my legs i couldnt be certain but it was distinctly possible i’d pissed myself upon thorough checking this wasnt the case (It was a classic MS signal breakdown between body and brain creating weird sensations) i required a rest, at which point feeling very alone and to be brutally honest scared for what the future holds the reality hit me hard. I needed to do every thing I could to slow progression and maintain my health.


About a third of people end up in wheel chairs within 20 years of diagnosis I was determined and still am that i’m not going to be one of those statistics. Thats when the overcoming MS book was recommended to me by a mutual friend i read and divulged everything In this book and that was that along with lifelong medication I had a path to follow and have mainly stuck to the recommended lifestyle changes the plan recommends. When diagnosed I was given all the hard facts 5 years is a big landmark to help predict prognosis, but 10 years is the point most people hope to still be functioning well as this is a really good indicator of long term disability. It has been a relevant date in the back of my mind for a long time now. And now i’m here contemplating that date I feel it would be appropriate to commemorate what has become the most defining event (after Emelie’s birth obviously) of my life.

Most of you reading this know the Bob Graham Round is a challenge i’ve been considering for a little while, what better time than next year having just completed old county tops with Jon Heaney and feeling very good apart from one small nutrition blip, recovery from the event has been good also. So fingers crossed for a good year of training and continued positive health. I hope for an attempt next June/July I’ve already had a positive response from Steve Birkinshaw regarding supporting (to anybody who has read his wainrights book he has a strong affiliation to MS charities due to his close sister having a less positive experience than myself maybe raising some money towards MS charities may become an option).


I hope this hasn’t been too self indulgent I aim to blog throughout the next year about training etc but will keep the health shit to a minimum. Anybody interested in supporting let me know and I’ll try over the year to plot a support team accordingly.

Namaste polyfellers