The Loch Ness Marathon
Carole Fortune battles back from broken neck to take part in marathon
I wanted to add this post to my website as Carole is a friend and work colleague, who had a torrid time after her accident, but has shown a huge amount of courage and determination to get back out and carry on in sport.
The following is taken form the Daily Record report:
THIS time last year, Carole Fortune couldn’t have imagined taking part in a marathon. The 48-year-old from Edinburgh had been a serious triathlete but was now facing a long period of rehabilitation after being hit by a car during a training session on her bike. The mum-of-two was forced to give up cycling, ending her impressive triathlon record at a stroke. But determined not to let the most serious of injuries beat her, she focused instead on swimming and running as she worked hard to get back in shape. And having just completed the gruelling Loch Ness Marathon, she admits she’s come a long way in the last 12 months, after having to start from scratch despite her previous high fitness levels.
She said: “I’d only been doing triathlons for three years. I used to run marathons but I was looking to find a way of diversifying from just marathons.
It was around that time that triathlons were beginning to arrive on the scene.
“I tried it, found it was something I was quite good at and every race I took part in I was getting placed in my age group, so I was getting better and better.
“I did lots of triathlons in Scotland, and last year I also took part in the Holten Triathlon. That’s the biggest one I’ve taken part in and I represented Great Britain in my age group.
“I also took part in an ironman triathlon, just two weeks before the accident.
“That was a two-and-a-half mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride, and then a full 26.2-mile marathon at the end of it.
“I did that in Bolton and I finished second in my age group, so I was competing very seriously, probably too seriously.
“The amount of training that was involved in doing that meant that I didn’t really have a life last year.”
But all that came to an end in August when Carole, who works for Capability Scotland, suffered an accident she was lucky to survive. She said: “I was out on my bike doing a training run and I got hit by a car at 50 miles an hour. I smashed the car’s windscreen, got carted down the road a little bit before being thrown off at the side, fracturing my neck.
“That was my most serious injury, and I had to have a metal plate inserted in my neck. Apparently, the two vertebrae that I fractured, C5 and C6, are the ones that supply the nerve endings to your arms and legs, so I’m very lucky I’ve still got feelings in my limbs.
“I do still have a little bit of numbness in my right hand but I was very lucky to survive a collision at that sort of speed.
“I spent two weeks in the Western General, where I underwent surgery on my neck, and then six weeks in Astley Ainslie Hospital because of the brain injuries I suffered as well.
“I spent nine weeks wearing a collar to stop me turning my neck left and right, and needed about six months off my work, by which time I’d had more than enough of staying at home.”
With the support of kids Jade, 14, and six-year-old Ryan, Carole was soon working on trying to regain the fitness she had prided herself on. She said: “After getting out of hospital, I was also determined to start walking as soon as I could, as I didn’t want the injury to stop me, so within a few weeks of the collar coming off I’d be going out for a walk with bursts of jogging. Soon she had set her sights on running the Loch Ness Marathon as her first big event.
“I can’t go back to competing in triathlons as I’ve been advised not to get back on my bike again, so I turned instead to running and swimming.
“I started swimming lessons with a triathlete coach as I thought it would be good way of improving my fitness while also being able to keep an eye on my neck.
“Swimming has been the easiest thing to get back into so far, while the running has been more difficult as I’m definitely not the runner I used to be.
“I don’t yet have the fitness level back, which is difficult to come to terms with, but the Loch Ness Marathon was all about proving I’m still able to do it.
“At the moment, it’s not so much a case of trying to be competitive as it is just being able to do what I can, then hopefully next year, I’ll be able to do more.”
And while most people wouldn’t blame Carole for putting her feet up and taking it easy after everything she’s been through, she insists that was never an option – although she does concede that there’s no chance of her ever being tempted to try triathlons again.
She said: “The reaction I’ve had from people has been mixed. People who know me quite well know exactly what I’m like and never expected me to do anything different, while other people think that doing this so soon after the accident is absolutely mad.
“But with swimming and running I’m not putting myself in the same sort of danger. My consultant has told me that if I suffer any sort of further head injury then I might never walk again, so there’s definitely no more biking.”