In 2008 Paul Stewart was sent plummeting 200ft off a cliff by an avalanche that left him paralysed from the waist down. Doctors told him that he would never walk again. This August, after intense training and determination, Paul is taking on his IronSpine challenge; a triathlon culminating in a climb of the cliff that broke him.
At the age of 27 Paul was paralysed from the waist down and told by doctors that he would never walk again. Such was his determination to get ‘back on his feet’ that he is now, despite being paralysed and with no feeling below the knee, able to walk with the aid of two walking sticks and leg braces. He will be starting his incredible challenge today on Tuesday 6th August.
Just one year ago Paul had walked no further than a mile, but after months of rehabilitation and working tirelessly on his fitness he is now ready to attempt a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile cycle a 26.2 mile walk and 1 cliff-face climb. The challenge will start with the swim on Tuesday the 6th August in the Stoke Mandeville Stadium. The next seven days will then be spent cycling on a trike through Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Surrey on his way to London. Days 8-11 will see him walk the streets of London all the way to City airport where he will be catching his flight to La Plagne. This will be the first time that Paul has returned to the scene of his accident that changed his life five years ago and it will be a poignant end to his two-week long journey testing his mental and emotional strength.
Jayne Wedge, a specialist in neuro-rehabilitation has described Paul as a medical marvel. “It is only because of Paul’s determination that he has come so far. By all rights he should not be able to walk at all. But since the accident he has committed himself to defying the prognosis. Through hard work, tenacity and stubbornness he is about to undertake a challenge that should be medically impossible.”
Paul will be cycling past Allianz Park on Monday 12th August and Saracens wish him the very best of luck on completing this incredible challenge.
Paul’s main objective is to make a difference for those with debilitating spinal injuries and also to tackle the perception of spinal injury and inspire others to follow in his footsteps. The challenge will be raising money for Spinal Research and Wings for Life; two charities dedicated to finding a cure for spinal cord injury. For more information and to donate please go to www.ironspinechallenge.com