Eric’S Back To Take On Great South Run

Great Comeback 2

You can join Eric on the start line for the Great South Run, visit greatrun.org/south

A PENSIONER who thought he would never be able to run again has been given a new lease of life after undergoing back surgery – and has made the most of it by entering the Great South Run.

Eric Pollard, a 67-year-old from Hayling Island, was a regular runner in his 30s and 40s, taking on half marathons and the Great South Run two decades ago.

However, he called time on running with a recurring back injury causing chronic pain, choosing to concentrate on cycling instead.

When the pain became too much for even that, Eric sought medical help, and was referred to the pain clinic at the Queen Alexandra Hospital where an MRI scan showed long-standing nerve damage. He underwent a procedure called radio frequency lesioning to joints in his back.

The procedure was a complete success, and it has resulted in a complete removal of the pain that had sidelined the previously active Eric.

And it even allowed him to lace up his running shoes for the first time in 20 years, taking part in the Great South Run last year.

“It's made a tremendous difference,” said Eric, a semi-retired furniture designer. “After thinking I wouldn't be able to take part in anything like this again, it's made an incredible difference. I used to run a long time ago, I used to run for Hampshire when I was at school, I did cross-country running, all different events, and I ran the Great South Run around 20 years ago, but went off it a bit because I was getting pain in my back, and my legs, so it dropped away.

“A couple of years ago, if I was walking for more than 15-20 minutes I would have to sit down because I was getting so much pain in my legs.

“It turns out I had damage to my lower spinal cord which was probably caused in adolescence through gymnastics and running. I've grown up with that injury all my life and that has been what has caused so much pain.

“Those MRI scans show such amazing detail and it was easy to see what the problem was. I was 65 when I had the procedure done. I didn't think I'd be able to run again.”

A third of entrants in Great Run events over the last 25 years are aged 40 or over, with a select few – 3 per cent – over 60. But Eric is proud to be running at his age and has extolled the virtues of staying fit.

“I was surprised how many runners over the age of 60 there are taking part in these events,” said Eric, who plans to take part in the five-day Paris to Hayling cycle event this year, taking in 425 miles. “I didn't think I'd be running now. It's good because I'm enjoying life, running to get ready for this event.

“It makes you feel better, it's a healthy thing to do.”

You can join Eric on the start line for the Great South Run, visit greatrun.org/south