Spastic paraplegia will not hold back Penwortham Red Rose Runner from competing

Mick Turner with the Red Rose Runners
Mick Turner with the Red Rose Runners
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Muscle wasting condition doesn’t define Penwortham fitness fanatic Mick Turner, as he speaks about his determination to compete in events in his wheelchair.

The 58-year-old from Penwortham has spastic paraplegia, which is a muscle wasting condition, affecting his legs.

The condition has got progressively worse over time and now he struggles to walk and now relies on a manual wheelchair.

This is a far cry from his younger years, where, as a member of Red Rose Runners, he competed in many races and did the People’s Marathon in Birmingham.

But now, thanks to his new set of wheels, he has rejoined the group and takes part in wheelchair-friendly races.

Read more: How Lancashire fell in love with the fun run and Lancaster charity sportsman undeterred by impending leg amputation

Mick says: “I have had this all my life.

“But over the past 10 years but is gradually getting worse and I can’t go running.

“My upper body is fine and I can still potter about. If I walk, I use a stick at a slow pace but I can’t go far.

“But over time, I will slowly lose strength and I won’t be able to put any weight on my legs. I don’t know how long that will be.

“But now I have got myself a wheelchair, it has given me a new lease of life and I can go a longer distance.

“I used to be a keen runner and I used to do a lot of jogging.

“I used to run three or four times a week and I entered a lot of races.

“I have even done a marathon in the early 1980s.

“I just love it and enjoy getting out and about.

“It is also a great social activity. I used to go running with a few of my friends and we trained together.

“For a long while I have had to give up and it got me down a bit.

“It gives me a buzz, especially doing races and that was one thing I missed.

“My partner, Tracy Young, is also into running and I was envious of her being able to go out.

“But now I have a wheelchair I can do a lot more and have more independence. We can now train together which is great.

“I rejoined Red Rose Runners and found a few races that take wheelchairs.

“The group is very supportive. Members come over and chat to me.

“They are very friendly and encourage me. It has made me want to keep it up.

“Fylde Coast Runners also often has wheelchair-friendly races I can take part in, so I would like to thank them also for allowing me to take part and be competitive.

“I try to get out four times a week, sometimes with Tracy and other times on my own. I do two to three miles. I use a manual wheelchair so I have to use my arms, which keeps me fit.

“My speed depends on the surface.

“I usually go at a jogging pace, so it is not quite as fast as runners.

“I can usually catch people up when they are walking and I can get past them.

“I have to say that people are very friendly and obliging when they see me out, especially in Penwortham and Preston.

“A lot of people will say hello and encourage me and some will ask me if I need any help, especially up any hills.

“Motorists are also good – drivers will let me pass and cross the road.

“This wheelchair has changed me life. I can now get out there and do so much more.”