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From coma to personal best in 12 months for marathon man Peter

By Jean Gunn

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Time for a selfie after the virtual Meadows marathon.
Time for a selfie after the virtual Meadows marathon.

A Caithness man has completed a virtual marathon in Edinburgh during lockdown – achieving a personal best.

For Peter Simpson (33) it was a special comeback challenge as he was unable to complete his first London Marathon in 2019 after suffering a cardiac arrest near the end of the race.

He was all prepared to take on the event in London again this April but it was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak so he decided instead to run one in the Meadows, completing 19 laps of the public park in two hours, 48 minutes and 41 seconds.

Peter grew up in Halkirk, where his parents James and Evelyn Simpson still live. He moved to Edinburgh when he went to university to study a degree in mathematics and statistics and now works for Scottish Widows doing data management.

He took up running around 2014 and felt he had got up to a decent level to do his first marathon in 2019.

"It was going well until I had a cardiac arrest just outside Buckingham Palace about 500 metres from the finish," Peter said.

"It was not the ending I expected."

Peter's watch records a personal best.
Peter's watch records a personal best.

Peter said he was very lucky that paramedics were nearby and able to start emergency CPR straight away. He was taken to hospital where he was put in an induced coma to give him the best chance of recovery.

"I didn't have any memory of the race whatsoever or the first initial days at the hospital in London," Peter explained.

His parents managed to get to London that night and were there when he woke up. After a week he was able to travel to Caithness with them to start his long journey of recovery.

Peter said: "The first thing I wanted to do was to start running again."

He feels running is very good for him, both physically and mentally, and finds being a member of Edinburgh Athletic Club provides acommunity spirit with everyone having the same target and goals.

Just six months after his plans went awry in London he took on the Loch Rannoch Marathon in October 2019 and was delighted to pick up a bronze medal.

Peter after taking bronze position at the Loch Rannoch Marathon in October 2019.
Peter after taking bronze position at the Loch Rannoch Marathon in October 2019.

In his blog he wrote: "The immediate aftermath following Loch Rannoch was great. Every message of congratulations hit a positive note, but I didn’t quite feel like the comeback from London Marathon was complete just yet.

"I still had an urge to complete the big one itself in a time which matched the potential I had."

Peter was well along his training programme when this year's marathon was cancelled so he decided he had to see it through.

"My mind was set up that I wanted to do it," he said.

He chose the Meadows as his venue as it has lots of wide paths which were easy to social distance on and he was also able to find a few places to set down water bottles.

"I made it as realistic as possible," Peter said.

He has three brothers who also live in Edinburgh and he knew if something went wrong they could have got to him easily.

When Peter read the two words "fastest marathon" on his watch at the end of his virtual marathon he said he got an endorphin release which was more powerful than any other he had ever experienced.

He has previously taken part in a couple of local events – the Mey 10K and the Wick Easter 10K – and hopes to do them again.

Peter's tale of three marathons and 12-month journey from coma to PB can be read on his blog: https://www.peterunsmarathons.com/post/a-tale-of-3-marathons-my-12-month-journey-from-coma-to-pb

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