Park Club Milton member, Alex Flynn , 46 from Wallingford has this week taken part in the Vodaphone Lost Island (220 kilometres) Ultra Marathon. Not only was the five day course brutal; battling humidity, hills, mountains, two cyclones and technical trail making this the hardest race on the planet. Added to this mix is the fact Alex did this with Parkinson’s disease.
Alex (pictured below), a former pupil of Wallingford School and trains at the Park Club, Milton Park, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at the age of 36. Since his diagnosis he has taken part in marathons worldwide, seeing him complete his goal of running 10 million meters; raising money for research into the disease and more importantly raising awareness.
Alex said, ‘What’s it like to be told that you have a, presently incurable, chronic, degenerative neurological disease? Well, it certainly knocked me for six! I was angry at first, and then in denial for a long time. It was only when I got to the Sahara, running in the Marathon Des Sables in 2009, that I got time to think and accept that if this is it, then I am going to do my utmost to raise funding to find a cure. Why? Over 120,000 people have Parkinson’s in the UK, with 10,000 diagnosed each year.’
This week is Parkinson’s Awareness Week and surrounds World Parkinson’s Day Wednesday, April 11. There are millions of people with this horrific, debilitating, neurological condition worldwide, and there is currently no cure. This is a disease that robs the sufferer of the ability to move, imprisoning them in their own body; effectively preventing them from enjoying the things that most take for granted. What’s more, people ignore Parkinson’s as they believe that it only affects the old. The truth is, it affects all; from teenagers to the elderly.
Exercise is an important part of healthy living for everyone. For people with Parkinson’s disease, exercise is more than healthy - it is a vital component to maintaining balance, mobility and activities of daily living. Exercise and physical activity can improve many symptoms. These benefits are supported by research.