A grandad who once got the better of Steve Cram in a race has reached a major running milestone – less than two years after suffering a heart attack.
Colin Reay, 56, decided to take up parkrun as part of his recovery from a heart attack in June 2015.
Mr Reay, who lives in Washington but is originally from Boldon Colliery, initially wanted to complete just one of the Saturday morning 5km events.
However, after being “bitten by the bug”, he has already completed 50 parkruns.
The father-of-two and grandad-of-three had been a runner in his younger years, and once beat future world star Cram in an 800m race at Gateshead Stadium.
As part of his rehab programme, running came back to the fore – and he has not looked back.
Once I got involved, I was bitten by the bugColin Reay
Mr Reay said: “One of my targets was to try and complete just one park run, to prove to myself that I could still run at the age of 55.
“I aimed to do one park run and walk away from it and say, ‘at least I know I can do it’.
“The first one I did was a little bit of a disaster.
“I was laid up for nearly two weeks with my leg. I could hardly walk.
“I decided to do it again because it didn’t go so well, and the second one went a bit better. Once I got involved, I was bitten by the bug.
“Since that second one, I haven’t missed a week.”
Before his heart attack, My Reay had maintained his fitness well, but decided to have a renewed drive on the road to recovery.
As well as taking up running again, he changed his diet and lost weight.
Mr Reay mainly runs the Chester-le-Street parkrun.
He has hailed the way the event has given him back his confidence – and helped him make legions of new friends.
He added: “There are so many people who take part in parkrun, including elite athletes and people who do it at a walking pace.
“I’m so involved now that I even volunteer, helping out the new runners and advising people about what the course is like.
“Being involved in parkrun has given me so much confidence to go out and run, and the camaraderie is fantastic.
“You make lots of friends and it’s a great atmosphere.
“I had a lump in my throat when I was running my 50th, because of the support I’ve been given.”
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