A five-time marathon runner who had his life turned upside down when he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease will take part in the Simplyhealth Great South Run in a wheelchair to raise awareness of the condition.
Brave Phil Rossall, from Orpington in Greater London, hopes to be able to stay alive until November to complete the 10-mile challenge for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
He will be pushed around the course in a wheelchair and will be joined by a team of runners from Run MND, an online group who take part in running events for the charity.
Phil was an active, healthy, 64-year-old and had taken part in five marathons in the UK and overseas before he was diagnosed with the condition, which has no current cure.
He was given between 18 months and two years to live as the condition is always fatal.
Over the last two years, he has become reliant on a ventilator for breathing and the use of a wheelchair as his hands and legs have weakened.
Despite this, Phil is determined to do something positive and signed up for the Simplyhealth Great South Run on Sunday 21 October to raise £10,000 for the charity.
He hopes that the money he raises will fund vital research into helping to find a cure for the condition.
Phil, now 65, said: “I had been feeling a bit under the weather, I was getting slower at walking and when I was out running. Then a couple of years ago I collapsed and got taken to hospital.
“I thought they would look at the bump on my head but they did tests and found my breathing was shot and I didn't have much way of getting oxygen in or carbon dioxide out.
“Eventually, I was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. It was a slightly odd experience as the words had been mentioned several times already so it wasn't a massive surprise when it came.
“Normally you have on average two years to live after diagnosis. I was diagnosed in June two years ago, so I am already living on borrowed time.
“I soon decided there was no point in looking back or thinking about what I can't do, I decided to go for things that I could still do.
“I am not one of these people who sit and do nothing, I am so lucky to have my wife Brenda who is very supportive.
“I got hold of Run MND via the Motor Neurone Disease Association's Facebook page and I have been in touch with them for the last year.
“I was looking for a race that I wanted to prepare for. 10 miles seemed an ideal distance, so we all decided to take part in the Simplyhealth Great South Run.”
The team from Run MND is made of runners from across the country who have been affected by Motor Neurone Disease. There are many from the south coast, including the Portsmouth area.
They will take part in the Simplyhealth Great South Run in Portsmouth with 20,000 others across a fast and flat course.
Runners celebrate everything that's great about the city, travelling through Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, around Southsea and crossing the finish line on the sea front, overlooking the Solent.
Phil, who works as a charity researcher, thinks that the event will be his last chance to play his part in the fight against Motor Neurone Disease.
He added: “I was very active and very much an outdoor person. I used to go walking a lot.
“When I turned 50 I decided I would work for charities and wanted to start fundraising which led me onto running. I did my first marathon in 2010 and my last one was only in 2014.
“At present there is no cure and very little by way of treatment. MND care is basically palliative but the MND Association is able to help sufferers in so many ways. They are a fantastic cause to support.
“The charity has helped me personally because we had a contribution towards ramps to allow me to go in and out of the house in my wheelchair.
“We've had a lot of support and advice from them to keep me positive and independent at home.
“The event seemed the obvious one to do. I have friends in Portsmouth already and it seemed a great opportunity.
“My target is to stay alive until my 66th Birthday which is the middle of November, so we hope to have raised enough money to hit our target by then.
“The idea is for me to raise lots of money and research takes a long time. I won't benefit from it but I am hoping that in five or 10 years' time, other people who are diagnosed with MND will benefit and get better treatment or hopefully a cure.”