15th December 2018 was a unique parkrun day for Paul Bovington (Bov) who was using the event as part of his training towards his goal to run a marathon. Up to the start line at Carisbrooke parkrun (South Australia) with his brother-in-law and training buddy, Craig Hicks. Running side by side, they turned at the halfway point at around the 11-minute mark and were pushing for a personal best. They turned and headed back toward the finish line; little did they know that they were moments away from a life changing situation.
Bov began to weave across the path and suddenly had the worst headache he has ever experienced. Bov needed to sit down and as he did, he fell unconscious. He had suffered a stroke and his life was in the balance. Assisted by Craig and other parkrunners, Paul was rushed to hospital and underwent emergency surgery.
Bov had further complications which resulted in surgery to remove swelling and two further bleeds on the brain. His family were advised that he may not make it. Paul survived the operations but was still in a critical state and remained unconscious for some time.
2019 has seen Paul starting to recover from his injuries which left him paralysed. Bov has had to learn to walk and talk again which he has done with the help of his physio's and specialists. He still has a long way to go and will need further surgery as he continues to improve. Bov has been told by his surgeon that he shouldn’t be alive, but Bov states “I am lucky, not unlucky”.
In March 2019, Bov went back to Carisbrooke parkrun but whilst he impressively walked over the finish line, he was unable to complete the course. Bov vowed to return and complete the course which he has since done on 4 occasions.
One year on the 14th December 2019 is Craig’s 100th run at Strathalbyn parkrun, where Craig is now a regular runner and volunteer. Craig brought the whole family out including Bov. Bov said it was important to be there for Craig’s 100th run but his anniversary was equally as important to him.
At the halfway flag, a contingent of parkrunners gathered to applaud Bov’s achievement, which was echoed at the finish as Bov walked over the line with his wife Rachel by his side, and of course flanked by Craig.
Bov still has little feeling on the left side of his body and is not able to feel the ground under his left foot, but Bov is getting fitter and stronger each week. Bov is waiting for the doctors to give him the green light so he can complete the goal of a marathon with Craig, and listening to his enthusiasm his goal is not in doubt. With 40 parkrun’s under his belt, I am sure there will be a large crowd at Bov’s 50th parkrun next year.
“parkrun is a community and is very selfless” says Bov, who crossed the finished line in time quicker than his last. “I was kind of a runner but Craig got me into parkrun and Carisbrooke was my nearest event”. The family are all now avid parkrunners and intend to visit as many events as they can. Bov and Rachel are very grateful of all the support Craig and the family having provided along with the parkrun community. Bov is a truly amazing man with an amazing family around him that is encouraged by the very parkrunners that he inspires.
This is a photo of Bov with Craig in the background. Bov says "this photo at Carrisbrooke was taken literally minutes before my stroke. It is quite surreal because neither Craig or I had any idea that in about 3 minutes our lives were going to take a massive turn.
One year on and Bov is running to the finish line, with Rachel and Craig in support.