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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Bradford arthritis patient defies the odds and takes on half marathon for local hospital charity

Diagnosed with arthritis at just 46 in 2017, this man is using his 'Yorkshire grit' and determination to race in the Leeds Half marathon in September.

A man from Bradford who has rheumatoid arthritis is planning to run in the Leeds Half Marathon in October to raise money for the Leeds Half marathon to raise money for Leeds Hospitals Charity.

Around 12,000 people are diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in the UK each year, it is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling and stiffness in the joints. Many people suffering from the disease struggle with simple daily tasks and need to adapt their lifestyle to manage their condition.

More than 10 million people have arthritis or other, similar conditions. The condition affects people of all ages, including children. The NHS says that across Britain more than 400,000 people have the condition, with it often starts in a person is between 40 and 50 years old.

Women are 3 times more likely to be affected than men. In rheumatoid arthritis, it is the body’s immune system that targets joints, causing pain, swelling and stiffness.

But this has not been the case for Kulwant “Kully” Johal. The 50-year-old, from Bradford, was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2017, at just 46 years old. For Mr Johal, the diagnosis was a big shock, and he worried about the impact the condition would have on his work life and hobbies.

Around 400,000 people in the UK have rheumatoid arthritis. Image by Towfiqu Barbhuiya.

Mr Johal has received specialist care from the Rheumatology department at Chapel Allerton Hospital since he was diagnosed. When Mr Johal was first diagnosed, he had been struggling to walk due to swelling in his knees and feared he wouldn’t be able to go running anymore.

However, thanks to the incredible care and support Mr Johal has received from the specialist team he’s been able to effectively manage his condition and is even hoping to complete the Leeds Half Marathon next month.

Mr Johal’s wife and younger brother also both work for the NHS, so he has seen first-hand the impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on frontline staff and felt it was his duty to give something back.

Mr Johal turned 50 last December and wanted to prove that he could still complete a running challenge, despite his condition so decided to sign up for the Leeds Half and raise funds for Leeds Hospitals Charity.

Before the pandemic, over 7,500 runners would take part in the marathon. Image by Miguel A. Amutio.

A half marathon is 13.10 miles or around 21 kilometres. The Leeds Half is the biggest event of its type in Yorkshire, with over 7,500 runners taking part. The first Half was staged in 1987 and will be held this year on  5 September 2021 at 9.45am, with the race office and assembly area open from 7am.

The marathon has set out strict Covid-19 guidelines, stating that prior to the race, all runners must take a self-assessment for the Coronavirus and isolate if it comes back positive.

Social distancing where possible, arriving ready to run to minimise interaction with staff and other runners is advised, and wearing a mask before and after the marathon is not required but encouraged by the organisers.

One of the hospital Physiotherapists encouraged Mr Johal to exercise regularly to manage his pain, and he says encouragement from staff really spurred him on: “I was recommended ‘Couch to 5k’ by one of the Physiotherapists and I just kept going from there. It’s been four years of hard work, but I knew if I didn’t do something my condition would progress quicker.

“I recently climbed Snowdon with my family and have been training ahead of the half marathon for 16 weeks. I’m determined to be in control of my disease, I don’t want it to define me and taking on this challenge is a great way to prove that.”

And as if that wasn’t enough, this is only in ‘training’ for the Virtual London Marathon Mr Johal is taking part in October in support of Versus Arthritis and Leeds Hospitals Charity.

Thanks to his ‘Yorkshire grit’ and determination, Mr Johal’s condition has not deteriorated as badly as doctors thought at this stage and Mr Johal hasn’t needed to go to his regular physiotherapy sessions.

You can donate to Kully’s fundraising page here.


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