Patient News: We're Supporting Extreme Adventurer Alex Flynn
We're excited to be supporting extreme adventurer Alex Flynn in his challenging new project happening later this year. More on that soon! Meanwhile we’ve asked Alex to introduce himself. Here’s his story so far:
Hi, my name is Alex and I’ve had Parkinson’s disease for 11 years now. I was diagnosed at the age 36. That’s young by most people standards but it isn’t. The youngest ever diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease was a two -year-old boy. I’ll let that just sink in for a second. Two years old! What kind of life is that little boy going to have?
What is Parkinson’s? Most people don’t fully understand what it is. It’s about rigidity. The lack of being able to move. It’s not the over abundant movement of someone flailing around like an eight-legged octopus. No, that’s just over medication; the unfortunate side-effect of taking a daily cocktail of prescription drugs to mask the effects of dwindling dopamine in the brain over many years. The product of which will take away a persons’ ability to enjoy things that most people take for granted; the ability to write, to walk, speak, have sex, not to mention the psychological impact, and many more. The diagnosis of Parkinson’s hits hard.
Many people receiving such a colossal diagnosis give up, take the medication and slowly deteriorate. I had and still have no intention becoming a shadow of my former self and neither should anyone else. So what did I do?
Well, I decided to #KeepMoving by taking on a challenge called 10 million metres. My intention was to traverse 10,000 km around the planet and only the events and challenges would contribute to the 10 million metre distance. There was no master plan other than to raise awareness of Parkinson’s disease and ultimately funds towards Parkinson’s research. That was in 2008. Between that decision and the present day so much has happened. Highlights include:
Completing the gruelling Marathon des Sables (250 km race across the Sahara Desert);
Running 160 miles across the Bavarian Alps in 52 hours;
Running 1,457 miles from London to Rome in 30 days to meet the Pope (400 miles of which was run with a stress fractured right tibia and completing the first 20 marathons in 10 days);
Becoming the first person to traverse the 3,256 miles from Santa Monica to New York using four distinct disciplines. I achieved this distance in 35 days and appeared on BBC One’s One show over two consecutive nights, raising awareness to over 10 million people worldwide and realising vital donations for charity.
In 2013 I crossed 200km of the Amazon Jungle, climbed and ran 90 km of the Dolomites and 236 km across the Colorado Rockies, achieving all three within an eight-week period;
On the 24th January 2014, the 10MillionMetres Challenge was completed at the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.
I’d covered a distance more than 6,200 miles around the world!
In the summer of 2015, I entered the Men’s Health USA Ultimate Guy Competition, successfully reaching the final nine competitors out of over 1,000 including Special Forces and the US Marines. I was also honoured by the then UK Prime Minister, David Cameron.
2016 brought a new challenge of completing 5,566 press-ups in 22 days to raise funds and awareness of PTSD, which affects military personnel and first responders. This was extremely tough as each day the target to be achieved increased by 22 push-ups on top of that which had already been achieved the previous day. I managed to continue for 18 days reaching total of 3,762 press-ups before the right shoulder gave out.
In February 2017, I returned from the Arctic after attempting a 450 km expedition of Sweden’s Kungsleden (Kings trail) in freezing temperatures of -29°C. My participation was cut short due to ripping a tendon in my right ankle. Undeterred, I had to continue and pulled a 135lb pulk and 10kg backpack across a further 25km, including two mountain passes before the onset of hypothermia.
In 2018, I undertook the brutal and extremely challenging Lost Islands Ultra in Fiji. Two weeks after finishing the Fiji ultra, I completed the Virgin Money London Marathon, notwithstanding my medication failing to work after 10 miles and running the remaining distance with muscle cramps and pain. Lots of pain!
Last September was spent in British Columbia, Canada. I had flown there to take part in Primal Quest. As part of a team, which included five times world adventure racing Champion Mike Klosser, we took on the Primal Quest Pursuit Race. An event there would take us across 240 miles of mountainous and challenging terrain including glaciers, and white water rapids situated in big Bear country. The team completed the challenge in four days and five hours.
None of the above come without impact on the body, whether caused by Parkinson’s or just bad luck. Primal Quest left me with whiplash after coming off my mountain bike a total of nine times while descending the second mountain stage. This is one of a long line of injuries I have had over the years which have been treated by Paul Martin at Physio Remedies. With Paul’s help, I intend to train harder than ever before for my forthcoming challenge this September where, as part of a team of four, I will take on the world’s toughest race.
Alex will be unveiling his next challenge very soon. Watch this space!
Words by Alex Flynn, image from Alex’s website.