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DFC 2019: Expat runs obstacle races after recovering from 2 brain seizures

Dhanusha Gokulan (Principal Correspondent) Filed on November 12, 2019 | Last updated on November 12, 2019 at 10.17 am
DFC 2019: Expat runs obstacle races after recovering from 2 brain seizures


Making an astounding recovery in a brief span, Lonsdale is now running obstacle races.

Dubai-based British expatriate Craig Lonsdale is now defying all the odds after suffering two severe brain seizures six months ago. The seizures caused damage to his brain cerebellum, resulting in loss of his motor skills, including his ability to eat or walk.

Making an astounding recovery in a brief span, Lonsdale is now running obstacle races. He has signed up for the upcoming Tough Mudder Race, which is due to take place on November 15, the closing weekend of the Dubai Fitness Challenge 30x30.

The 45-year-old has been in the UAE since 2007. "From my early days, I've been into a lot of sports. I was into running and boxing. I've learnt Muay Thai. I have been very active in terms of my fitness," Lonsdale told Khaleej Times.

However, one day, Lonsdale's life took a turn for the worst. "I was walking down the street, and I collapsed," he said.

"Craig suffered two severe brain seizures and had to be resuscitated by me. The cerebellum is a small yet susceptible part of the brain that controls all motor skills. So, Craig's walking, speech, bowel control and hand-eye coordination were left impacted," explained Craig's wife, Jacqueline Botha.

Lonsdale also lost a big chunk of his memory after the brain seizures. "I spent a month in hospital. It was a complete inspiration for me to start from zero. I couldn't even walk when I was released from the hospital. I can't remember any time at the hospital either. My wife and I have been working to piece together the memories every single day," he told Khaleej Times.

A former restaurant operations manager, Lonsdale said his recovery had been a journey that began with baby steps. "To say it's been a long journey is an understatement, but fortunately I married the most stubborn man in the world, and he refused to accept this," said Jacqueline.

Since running has always been a passion for Craig, he started his road to recovery by taking walking. He slowly started jogging, and within no time, he began running. "I pushed as hard as I could. I have lost 20kg in the process, as I had put a lot of weight during my illness," explained Craig.

Jacqueline said: "We did simple exercises together to improve his motor skills. We then started walking a friend's dog that helped him regain his balance, and his walk turned to a run. He soon found that exercise gave him that stimulation he needed to push himself harder each day."

Craig participated in the first Tough Mudder, a 5-km run laced with several obstacles in the mud, with his best friend in the UK.

"He loved it. As we were driving, we heard the Tough Mudder Abu Dhabi being advertised; and he kept saying how would love to do it. He put all his heart and effort into training, filling his backpack with water bottles and carrying it while running. He is setting pool lengths to complete each day. He found a tyre in nearby area and started doing tyre flips. It was honestly incredible to see his determination and his rehabilitation improve daily," explained Jacqueline.

Five months later, Lonsdale completed the Tough Mudder Abu Dhabi in October and is now all set to finish the upcoming one in Dubai. "If I can inspire just one person with my story, that is enough. My message to people would be: Do not give up. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel," said Craig.


Dhanusha Gokulan

Originally from India, Dhanusha Gokulan has been working as a journalist for 10 years. She has a keen interest in writing about issues that plague the common person, and will never turn down a human interest story. She completed her Bachelor in Arts in Journalism, Economics, and English Literature from Mangalore University in 2008. In her spare time, she dabbles with some singing/songwriting, loves travelling, and Audible is her favourite mobile application. Tweet at her @wordjunkie88

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