Alzheimer’s sufferer finally gets to run with his son

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He may now suffer with Alzheimer’s disease and carry the scars from his cancer battle, but Trevor Smith made a life-long dream of his son’s come true at the Great Notley Park Run at the weekend.

The 62-year-old, who was diagnosed with the degenerative disease five years ago, had never run a competitive race alongside his son Dan Smith, a regular at varying distances for Halstead Road Runners.

But Smith senior, who was a founding member of the north Essex club back in 1985, rolled back the years to complete his first competitive race in more than 20 years on Saturday, coming second in his age category in a time of 41 minutes and 47 seconds.

It was an emotional run for his son Dan, whose father has been his catalyst for running through the wall in every one of his 19 marathons since he ran to raise funds for the Alzhiemer’s Society in 2011.

“When I was at my lowest point at 19 miles in the London Marathon, raising money for Alzheimer’s Society, dad was the one person I called for support,” he said. “He still remembers this today and every one of the 19 marathons I’ve 
done since then he says to me after ‘you’d have run it quicker had you not been on the phone’.

“My main reason for marathon running is my dad. I was so inspired as a 10-year-old standing in the Mall watching him in 1991, that I promised myself I’d run like dad.”

Smith senior had a personal best of around three hours 20 minutes across three London Marathons in the late 80s and early 90s, but was forced to turn his attention to helping out the juniors at the club due to a knee injury.

But a battle with cancer, which started in 2008, and which he went on to win, 
was not his only barrier to getting back running, with dementia also diagnosed at just 57.

But it was during a recent visit to his care home that his son decided to take him to watch a park run, something which he saw stimulate 
an old spark in him and led to Saturday’s heart-warming run.

“Despite struggling a little in the later stages, he didn’t moan once and kept telling me to run on and leave him as he was slowing me down,” said Dan, whose father had not trained for the run. “It wasn’t about running a decent time for me (though), it was about after 20-odd years I’d finally run a race with my dad.”

And Dan holds hope it will not be the last.

“He has mentioned about running again, and I’ll be sure to get him along to another park run soon,” he said. “His condition is obviously getting worse and he is gradually losing the ability to do simple tasks.

“However, as long as he’s mobile that spark will shine.”

Cheered on by his family, Trevor was taken to his daughter’s following the race where a charity coffee morning in aid of Alzhiemer’s research and treatment raised £200.

Other Halstead results from the Park Run: Karl Hillman 22.54, Rosie Atkins 24.15, Mick Purkiss 29.16 and Shelia Purkiss 34.10.

n Saturday also saw Stewart Ellis romp home to victory in Saturday’s 5k Maldon Promenade Park Run, for his first ever competitive victory.

He finished well clear of the 160 entrants in 18 minutes 34 seconds. There was also a 15th-place finish for Danny Hewitt after crossing the finish line in 21.32.

Marathon legend Andy Wilmot turned his attention to the ultra distance at the weekend, running in the Gatcliffe 50k.

The multi-terrain event measured 33.5miles, but proved no match for Wilmot, who finished in eight hours 39 minutes.