By Chris Jaffray
A marathon-running dad who jogged 22 miles a week was told to run BACKWARDS to cure his bizarre symptoms – before discovering he actually had Parkinson’s.
Company director Antony Rose, 50, took up triathlons and Ironman contests in his forties, regularly taking part in some of the toughest events in the country.
But in October 2016 his left leg collapsed from underneath him and began no longer working properly before his handwriting deteriorated.
Over the next two years, Antony claims medics couldn’t work out what was wrong with him – at one point diagnosing him with exercise-induced dystonia, a neurological disorder brought on by working out too much, while friends told him to try running backwards to ease his muscles.
But in April last year, the dad-of-three was given the earth-shattering news he actually had Parkinson’s Disease – but has pledged to still complete a gruelling 100-mile run to raise awareness of the condition this May.
Antony, from Portsmouth, said: “In 2016 it was the fittest I’d ever been, I was doing 5km parkruns in just over 20 minutes.
“But in 2016, I fell on my left leg and it stopped working properly.
“Between October 2016 and April 2019, no doctor or physio had a clue what was going on.
“They initially thought the problem was coming from my nerves or my spine – but as it turned out, eventually it was nothing to do with that.
“The tests would take weeks, then I would be back at the doctors again – it was depressing and frustrating.
“I had noticed my handwriting getting worse, but I just thought perhaps there was something wrong with my shoulder as I had injured that in the past.
“Friends I ran with thought it might be exercise-induced dystonia, brought on by too much exercise.
“They told me to try running backwards to ease the muscles so I did the Great South Run backwards, I got some funny looks.
“I did some training backwards and I used a mirror for safety so I didn’t have to keep turning around.
“When I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, it was a bit of a blow to say the least.
“The doctors and physios had been as puzzled as I was, they thought it was something physical, not anything like Parkinson’s.
“It’s pretty rare but as I was in my 40s they just weren’t looking for anything like it.”
Antony took part in a mountain marathon over two days aged 40 and decided from there he would take his training to the next level.
He downloaded jogging app Strava and would regularly run 22 miles a week – completing an Iron Man in 2015 and an Ultra Marathon in 2016.
But after his losing the use of his leg he noticed he was really struggling to run as well as he had been, so thought he had a nerve related injury.
In October 2018, after being told he could have exercise-induced dystonia brought on by by too much exercise, he even ran the Great South Run backwards with a mirror on his arm.
He did training running backwards, which temporarily helped, but as doctors were searching for a physical injury all tests came back negative.
Eventually he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, a long-term degenerative disorder of the central nervous system.
But determined to return to his punishing exercise routine, the dad-of-three has set himself the gruelling challenge of completing a 100-mile run this May for the Cure Parkinson’s Trust.
He will take a drug which allows him to use his leg properly for up to four hours to complete the race but admitted he may be in agony by the end.
Antony said: “Before I was running for seven hours a week, so the diagnosis has taken a lot of adjustment.
“I think I’m still getting to grips with it. It’s a whole different me.
“When I am on the drugs I can run around as best I can, but then I run out of dopamine and my leg stops working.
“Other runners can tell when the drugs are not working, because the left side of my body doesn’t respond properly – it looks almost like I’m cycling.
“They say exercise is the best thing for Parkinson’s because it stimulates the neurons to fire in the brain.
“If I hadn’t been doing all the running 10 years ago, I’d probably be in a lot worse situation now than I am – so in a way it’s a blessing.
“But there were so many possibilities, so when I think about what could have been I get very frustrated.”
The runs begins in Richmond and goes towards Oxford, with a time limit of 28 hours.
Antony hopes to raise £2,500 for The Cure Parkinson’s trust.
And wife Caroline, 50, a marine engineer, and children Victoria, 18, Christopher, 16 and Hannah, 12, will see him off at the start line and make their way to the finish.
Antony, who has no idea of his long-term prognosis, said: “This is completely out of my comfort zone, and I’m not sure the Parkinson’s will let me finish but I’m going to give it my best shot.
“I’ve got the long winter nights to look forwards to during long training runs and walks – and towards the end of a 100 miler it will be a walk.
“I’ve got a crew to help me, although judging from their comments they think I’m slightly unhinged.
“Parkinson’s is a grey area, you can’t tell how or when it will progress, so I don’t know what will happen.
“Previously you could only tell someone definitely had had it when they were dead, at least now we have scans.
“My three children are coming to terms with it but sometimes it is a bit overwhelming.
“My wife Caroline has been an absolute rock.”
His effort can be supported by visiting: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/twigthamespath100