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‘If someone tells me I can’t do something, I have to prove them wrong’

Man who had two strokes completes Brecon Carreg Cardiff Bay 10K

John Brockway

A 66-year-old man who previously had two strokes, and two serious accidents, completed the Brecon Carreg Cardiff Bay 10K despite being told his days of sport might be over.

John Brockway, a builder from Pembroke, wants to inspire those who have gone through something similar to show them what can be possible.

He ran the Brecon Carreg Cardiff Bay 10K on Sunday managing to smash his goal of finishing in under an hour, with a time of 59:21.

The dad-of-seven and two stepchildren, said: “If someone tells me I can’t do something, I have to prove them wrong. That’s why I work so hard and rarely have a day off. I was told I’d never be able to break an hour as I have too many injuries, so I’m so pleased I managed to do that – I broke down crossing the line.”

John’s first setback happened when he had a serious car crash in his twenties.

“It was a head on collision which left me with a shattered right leg, mangled pelvis and smashed ribs,” said John. “I was a mess. Firefighters had to cut me out the car and I ended up in hospital for four months. Doctors initially thought I was going to lose my leg and worked hard to rebuild it. I remember them telling me that my days of sport were over and I may not be able to work.”

Despite what the doctors said, John worked hard to rebuild his strength and fitness and he set himself the goal of running the Cardiff Half Marathon four years later.

He said: “I was on crutches for a long time and had to relearn to walk. My leg was a bit twisted but I got used to that and I finished the Cardiff Half Marathon in 1983 in 1 hour 43 minutes.”

John got the running bug and continued to keep fit. However, another accident six years ago saw him fall from an oak beam and shatter his foot, resulting in surgery to pin his foot back together.

Then three years later he suffered his first stroke, followed by a second the year after.

John said: “It happened in the middle of the night. I tried to stand up but fell over. My first stroke was quite severe, but my second was much milder. I don’t remember much about what happened as I was walking down the stairs and then woke up at the bottom, so I must have hit my head. But both times an ambulance came very quickly, so I was quite lucky.

“It’s meant that I’ve been left with a lot of trouble on my right-hand side as the left half of my brain was quite damaged. When I was in hospital, I couldn’t make a cup of tea or eat a plate of food as my vision was badly impacted. When I tried to go for a walk, I was going around in a circle, but that soon improved through a series of exercises from the doctors.”

Again, doctors told John that he may never be able to work again, but he was determined not to let what happened stop him.

He now makes sure to walk at least 10,000 steps a day and signed up to several running events to give himself something to aim for, often raising money for the Stroke Association.

John added: “If I’m doing something that I’m used to, like my building work, I’m fine, but it’s new things I struggle with now.

“There’s a lot of people who have had a stroke so I want to help raise awareness of the condition and let them know to never give up.”

Matt Newman, Chief Executive at event organisers Run 4 Wales, added: “The runners that take part in our events never fail to amaze us and it’s fantastic to see so many people, like John, pushing themselves to achieve their goals.”