On your Mark, Get Set, Go

Mark Widowson is probably the most inspiration man you’ve never heard of. He is Virtual Runner’s one and only wheelchair runner at the LIVE Event, proving the saying – ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way’.

The East Midlands man recently completed the Virtual Runner 2km live event with his walking frame at the Becket School in Nottingham on Sunday 6th January, achieving a new personal best distance and inspiring fellow runners all in a day’s work.

Mark was born with spina bifida, a condition that occurs when a baby’s spine and spinal cord fails to develop properly in the womb leading to a gap appearing in a part of the spine called the neural tube. The condition prevents the neural tube from closing properly leading to defects in the vertebrae which impact upon stability and movement. On average spina bifida occurs in 1 per 2500 children born. Mark has courageously chosen to focus on his ability rather than his disability, dedicating himself to running, a pursuit he began just last year. Mark said Virtual Runner has given him something to aim towards on his journey to physical fitness and wellbeing.

In addition to his congenital conditiom, Mark has also had to overcome a cancer diagnosis and crumbling vertebrae in his lower back due in part to his condition. Just one of these alone would be enough to defeat most people, but it has not stopped Mark. Regular physical exercise has improved Mark’s fitness and made him feel like part of something bigger, a community that supports his journey, he said.

Aided by the fantastic work of his physiotherapist Kerstine, he has been able to take part in live running events; the first of which was the Robin Hood 1 mile in September. Speaking to Mark and other people in the Virtual Runner community you get a sense that the live event was much more than that, it was the culmination of a long road of physical and mental training. Seeing people, many of whom Mark had never met, cheering him on at the finish line has been a great motivator for him to continue his journey, he said. Physiotherapy and physical activity have given Mark a new lease on life. He no longer suffers from back pain and feels as healthy as he has ever felt.

Mark with the Virtual Runner team ahead of the Robin Hood 1 Mile challenge

With his sights now set on summer 2019, Mark is already back in the gym and progressing everyday with plans of being ready for more live running events over the next few months. It seems there is no stopping Mark and we can’t wait to see what he takes on next.