Running for Time - an inspirational running journey
20 April 2016
On Sunday 10th April 2016, 12,000 runners lined up at the start of the 40th Greater Manchester Marathon.
Among the runners was Tim Ward, running his first marathon, in his home city, for charity.
But Tim’s decision to make Manchester his first marathon was not just due to the fact that he lives in the city. It’s because 10th April is an anniversary -it is exactly five years to the date that he was diagnosed with locally advanced prostate cancer.
At the time, Tim was working as a Cancer Research Scientist at the Manchester Christie Hospital. He was 58 with a great career, great family life. The diagnosis destroyed his world and he took early retirement. He was placed on hormone therapy and spent two months at the Royal Marsden Hospital in London undergoing pelvic radiotherapy.
The after effects of the radiotherapy were severe and left him with Pelvic Radiation disease. Having battled through all that, Tim became a trustee of the Pelvic Radiation Disease Association and decided to run his first Manchester 10k. This decision came about due his daughter’s Sarah love of running (Sarah lives in Australia and has run marathons in 3 hours) and he felt this was inspirational and would be a great opportunity to get closer to her and raise money for his charity.
So he started to run on his own.
His friend, and brother-in-law, Tony Payne (founder of Chorlton Runners in Manchester) suggested Tim join a running group in North Manchester, led by Steve Gallagher, called Blackley Walk2Run. At this stage Tim admits that running between two lamp posts would make him feel breathless. Joining the group allowed his fitness levels to improve and he managed to run, and enjoy, the Manchester 10k in 2013.
The buzz from that race encouraged him to complete the We Love Manchester 10k (Etihad Campus) and the Salford Quays 10k the same year. With the support of Blackley Walk2 Run his running carried on. In 2014 Tim ran his first half marathon (The Robin Hood Half in Nottingham).
What makes these runs remarkable is that he continued to struggle with the consequences of his treatment between training and races. He says that by running he felt he was getting fitter and fitter, both physically and mentally and was in more control of his health.
Another Half Marathon (Arley Hall) followed which he ran in a brilliant time of 2 hours 50 minutes. But soon after this, his health crashed again. His Pelvic radiation disease had left him very anaemic and weak. It was suggested he undergo Hyperbaric Oxygen treatment daily for three months. By January 2015 he had finished his treatment and resumed training.
That Easter Tim travelled to Australia to visit Sarah who was expecting her first child. She had planned to run the Geelong Half Marathon, however Sarah couldn’t run so Tim ran it for her. By then he knew that he was hooked on running. He returned to the UK, unofficially joined a trial run by Sussex University for Prostate Cancer survivors to work on his upper body strength to complement his running. He joined a gym under a prescription exercise programme called BEATS in Radcliff and saw vast improvements to his health.
His Type II Diabetes came under control, his blood pressure stabilised and his weight dropped to healthy levels. A knee injury following a race set him back for the whole of the end of 2015 which stopped his training for his first marathon. However by February 2016, Tim started training again and with 6 weeks of great support from family and club members had some good running under his belt, he found himself crossing the finish line at the Manchester Marathon.
Pictured above: Tim standing proud with his finisher’s medal surrounded by his wife Margaret (in green) and friends at the finish line of the Greater Manchester Marathon 2016.
His time? Extra time to spend with his family and friends, money donated to his charity, self-esteem and confidence in his health. A win-win situation.