Belfast Telegraph

Cerebral palsy couldn't stop Gillian from finishing eight remarkable races

By Claire McNeilly

Her parents were told their newborn would never walk - but just look at Gillian Craig now.

The 35-year-old medical receptionist, who has cerebral palsy, has always refused to let her condition become an impediment.

It's a mindset that has seen her racing ahead of competitors - and not just in everyday life.

Despite having difficulties with lower limb balance and coordination, the Magheramorne woman has completed the last of eight races in the popular Born 2 Run, Run Forest Run series.

Speaking following her "massive personal achievement", Gillian - who has a twin sister who is unaffected by the condition -said that running has changed the way she sees the world.

"I was never meant to walk, never mind run," she said. "I'd never been sporty and with my condition I was the one who was always given a head start on sports day when I was at school.

"But then one day I did my local park run and I suppose it all really started from there.

"In the past two years I've made so many friends through running, it has turned my life around and I've even become a bit of a celebrity as the girl from the Larne Park Runs!"

Gillian, who runs with a splint attached to each leg, completed all of the races during the winter months in scenic forest locations throughout Northern Ireland.

She completed the tough challenge - and raised £3,000 for The Cedar Foundation charity.

"I'm fulfilling my dreams and ambitions and I'm just thrilled to have been recognised," she said.

Her foray into the park run field began when she watched her family - dad Thomas Snr (56), mum Senga (53), brother Thomas Jnr (30) and twin sister Margaret (35) - lace up their trainers.

"I decided to give it a go myself and after completing over 50 park runs I decided to do something extra so I signed up to the Run Forest Run challenge," she said.

"I never thought I'd be able to run any distance, because everything about running is a challenge for me, but I give it all I've got and if I've to crawl over the finish line I will.

"You have to believe in yourself; that's what I would say to anyone whether living with a disability or not."

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