A local man who suffered from a rare flesh-eating bacteria has recovered to discover a passion for running.
After battling with necrotizing fasciitis, Robin Grant has developed a love of exploring the great outdoors on foot and will compete in the Baxters River Ness 10k in September.
It was an ordinary day at work in August 2014 for Robin (43) – originally from Old Rayne in Aberdeenshire and now living in Inverness - when he began to notice the first symptoms of the illness.
He said:“I suddenly felt an intense pain in my arm, but after about half an hour, the pain went away and I thought I was okay.
“The pain came back and it was excruciating, although I don’t usually visit the doctor I walked up to casualty and was given some painkillers.
Robin returned to his family home where his father took him to their GP in Insch.
“He took one look at me and asked, ‘Have you got transport or do you need me to call an ambulance?’”
Robin was rushed to A&E in Aberdeen where, after just four hours, he was taken into surgery.
He was diagnosed with necrotizing fasciitis – a rare condition that is known as a flesh-eating bacteria. The illness causes tissue death in affected areas, resulting in incredible pain.
Robin explains, “When I came out of surgery, I was in intensive care for about two weeks and on a ventilator for a week. The only way to treat the bug is to cut it out – the flesh is essentially dead – so I also required plastic surgery.
“For me, hospital was an incredibly boring place, I signed up to take part in a local 10k event while I was still admitted, and completed it the next year.”
Six months after his ordeal in hospital, Robin was back in Inverness .
But he couldn’t shake his passion for running – despite having to adapt to new limitations.
“I had to develop a different style of running, my right side was hit hard by the bug – I lost my shoulder muscles and part of my bicep – so it really affected my balance.
“I couldn’t swing my right arm, and I still can’t lift it properly to this day.
“I noticed that I had begun to compensate with the left side of my body, but I actually feel like I’m running better now than I ever did before. It might be because I’m running more now, but I think that I’m also improving because I’m thinking more about how I need to run.”
After his first race, Robin began to enter a number of 10ks across the country – including the River Ness 10k, which is part of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running.
And despite having run in some incredible locations across the country, Robin counts his local race as one of the best.
He says, “I was back living in Inverness and decided to run the River Ness 10K. It was tough – it was roasting hot that day – but I absolutely loved it.
The course is great, and the energy around the whole event is really uplifting.
“This year I’m looking to up my distance and run a few half marathons. I’d run a few before I was ill, but this will be the first time I’ve attempted it recently.
And I’ll definitely be back to run in the River Ness 10K. The year wouldn’t feel complete without it.
“I’ve got my sights set on the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon, though. One day soon, you’ll find me on the starting line.”
The River Ness 10k takes place on September 24, and is part of the Baxters Loch Ness Marathon and Festival of Running.
The event, which draws thousands of people from across the world, also comprises the title marathon, 10K Corporate Challenge, River Ness 5K and a Wee Nessie fun-run for pre-school children.