Cerebral Palsy Grand Prix at Chelmsford with Doran the half Marathon runner.
A few days ago I was at Chelmsford Sports & Athletics stadium where disabled young athletes were performing/competing different sports. The stadium was buzzing with all kinds of brain damaged and other disabled youngsters along with their families who were there to support them and cheer them on as they perform their best in order to collect as many points as possible in order to qualify for the Paralympic Games.
The stadium had a grand appearance both indoor and outdoor and I was surprised at the variety of sports that these young disabled athletes were able to compete in, for example shot putt, discuss, long jump and track running to name but a few.
The parents were very close knit with everyone knowing each other like one big happy family. I could not fail to be inspired and impressed by both the determination of these young disabled athletes – trying their hardest to perform their best – along with their dedicated parents who not only sponsored an event that was being held throughout the country they also financed the traveling and hotel expenses over and above any expenses they incurred relating to their own disabled children.
It also needs to be said that this event would also not have been possible without the dedication and kind heartedness of the voluntary workers who sacrified their weekend so that this event could take place. I was extremely moved by what both the familes and voluntary workers were trying to achieve.
Today I volunteered to give pre and post sports massage to Doran, a 34 year old half marathon runner with Cerebral Palsy. I could only hope that with my help he would be able to manage to achieve a personal best on his 5k run which was due to commence a few hours later on the track. His current record stands at 27 minutes and was run in pretty severe weather conditions including hail stones. With there being a few hours before Doran’s 5k race we had the opportunity to enjoy watching the other competitors in events such as the 100m, and 400m. In some events there was only one person per category ie: the 1500. Whilst it It must be think difficult to run against yourself to try and improve your personal best, both Doran’s parents and I discussed this possibility and decided that next time we would put him into this category to see how he performed.
Whilst there is more work required to improve the blood circulation in his legs, Doran required a pre-race massage. Ccnscious of the time I worked very fast, completing a vigorous pre-race massage. With his knee and quad muscles being very tight, the pre race massage was evidently worth it as afterwards the muscles had loosened up considerably with no tightness. It is very important for any athlete, be they able bodied or disabled, to have a proper warm up routine although It is even more important for disabled athletes to carry out good practice, given that their muscles are likely to be very tense and weak because they are generally not using them.
With the weather being perfect for the beach, running 5k in 28C heat without any shade was not going to be a pleasant prospect for Doran. Indeed it can be very dangerous to run in this heat. I therefore ensured that Doran remained in the shade until his race started hopefully within a few minutes.
During the race it was good to see him running steadily without any difficulty. We discussed his running style which has greatly improved with Doran running more upright and making better use of his arms to drive himself forward. Doran ran a tactically correct race by managing to keep himself in the inside lane at all times. During the race I walked around the track cheering and shouting to him “Head up look forward” or “Well done keep it up” or just “Go go Doran”. The race was fantastic I very proud of him. He finished the race 28 min – a fantastic achievement in very difficult climatic conditions.
Finishing his race and getting his breath back again after a few glasses of water I asked him. How was it? How is your leg? He told me that It felt like flying and that there was no discomfort during the race. So it was time to give him some post sports massage whilst he slowly drank his water, chatting up the first aid ladies with his charm.
This was then followed by some stretches. The post massage for him helps to remove waste product and lactic acid from his legs, improves muscle tone by increasing blood flow to the area. After 10-15 mins post sports massage his leg muscles are performing normally to the extent that he was fine ready to go again.
He did not manage to beat his personal best likely due to the intensely hot weather conditions and a headwind which would affect his time greatly. If I had to do this it is likely I would be coughing up a lung after lap 2. During he 28 minute run, I managed to get some sunburn with my voice is almost gone to the extent that I was left with a very rusty voice but it was worth it. We were all very proud of him and I decided after all I will go to all the events that he chooses to enter to both support him and help him improve his performance..
At the end of the day I had a wonderful time with Doran and his parents. I was impressed with what I saw today and marveled at all the young potential Paralympic athletes with regards to the effort they put in to perform their very best. I was very pleased to be a part of this event and I look forward to the next one and the many more that I’m sure will follow.