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 was a regular runner into his 40s and took on a half-marathon and the Great South Run two decades ago.
However, he called time on running because of painful nerve damage in his back and started cycling instead.
Eventually he underwent a procedure, called radio frequency lesioning, on joints in his back.
It was a success and now, aged 67, he has signed up for this year’s 10-mile Great South Run around Portsmouth and Southsea’s famous landmarks.
A third of entrants in Great Run events over the past 25 years have been aged 40 or over, with a select few – three per cent – over 60.
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 lives in Hayling Island.
‘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.’
Eric also plans to take part in a five-day Paris to Hayling cycle ride this year, taking in 425 miles.
The semi-retired furniture designer said: ‘A couple of years ago, if I was walking for more than 15 to 20 minutes I would have to sit down because I was getting so much pain in my legs.
‘After thinking I wouldn’t be able to take part in anything like this again, it’s made an incredible difference.’
Eric was a sporty child and represented Hampshire in cross-country.
It is believed he may have injured his back then.
He said: ‘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.’
To join Eric on the start line of the Great South Run on Sunday October 23, visit greatrun.org/south.