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Technology gives runner the edge
A cutting-edge running blade is giving an amputee the chance to fulfil his dream of distance running once again.
Phil Sheridan is currently in training as he prepares to run the length of the Dales Way long-distance footpath – 80 miles – in just three days, later this year.
And it will mark a tenth anniversary milestone for the 48-year-old from Worth village, Keighley, who lost his right leg in an accident in 2002.
After taking up running again in 2010, following the removal of painful pins and plates holding his femur together, Mr Sheridan is now ready to use a specially-made blade for his long-distance challenge in September, which will see him run from Ilkley to Bowness-on-Windermere, via the likes of Hubberholme, Sedbergh and the high pass over Cam Fell.
“In 2010, all of the pins and plates that had been causing me so much aggravation were finally removed and allowed me to become more mobile, so I tried running,” said Mr Sheridan.
“I was determined to get fit and get back out running again and this new blade has allowed me to fulfil that dream.
“I was absolutely delighted to have been given a blade to run with. It has given me so many more opportunities, widened my horizons and allowed me to run again – it’s just stunning.”
Mr Sheridan’s blade has been made by specialists RSLSteeper, based at Seacroft Prosthetics Department in Leeds, and been specially adapted for the run, including the fitting of a trail running sole, which he says has been working extremely well.
Each of the three stages will involve distances equalling or exceeding that of a marathon, taking in steep and rocky ascents and descents as well as grassy trails and bridleways.
“This is a really significant challenge as it will take both me and the blade out of our comfort zones,” he said.
“I have a huge responsibility to make sure I am fit enough to complete the run as the muscle groups involved in running with a blade mean you dehydrate quicker so therefore have to drink and refuel more often.
“As I’ll be running alone, it’s absolutely essential I am up to the job, that my planning is spot on and that the blade is in perfect condition before I set off.”
Mr Sheridan will be running to raise money for four charities: MIND, Martin House Hospice, Combat Stress and Survival International.
He would like to raise a total of £20,000 for the charities and has set up a Just Giving page at justgiving.com/teams/ daleswayultrarun.