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19 September 2023   |   Blog   |   

From Coma to Accomplished Runner – Meet Sports Tours Ambassador Jade Knight!

This weekend, Sports Tours Ambassador Jade Knight will take on the 2023 BMW-BERLIN MARATHON with us – her first ever international running event. Jade’s incredible journey from health struggles and being told she wouldn’t walk again after being in a coma, to becoming a marathon runner, personal trainer, sports scholar and University Athletics Team Captain is truly inspiring. Read Jade’s extraordinary story below:

Tell us about your story:

I was born with a connective tissue disorder called Ehlers- Danlos syndrome and have struggled with my health since I was eight years old. In 2018 when I was sixteen my health massively declined, and I ended up in multiple comas. The doctors told my family if I woke up, because they weren’t sure if I would, that I would suffer from severe brain damage, meaning that I wouldn’t be able to walk, talk, eat or do anything independently.

After I woke up, I had no fine motor skills at all, to the point where I struggled to hold a toothbrush or use my body to sit up. This was an extremely difficult time for me, being 16 years old at the time I had gone from being at high school and having fun with my friends, to potentially not being able to walk again.

I struggled a lot with my health until I was seventeen and then the COVID pandemic hit, where I ended up spending nine months in hospital for the majority of lockdown. After lockdown, I got to the point where I could walk about 100 metres, which took me months as I was having to use crutches due to having no balance and eventually, I got to the point where my physio had stopped and they told me there was nothing more they could do to help my progress.

How did your running journey start?

During a conversation with my physio, she asked me to write down three goals. She expected me to say something along the lines of stand up or brush my own hair – I set an unconventional goal to run a marathon! Despite scepticism, I was determined, and signed up for my first ever half-marathon – The Royal Parks Half. I began with 500m walks, training rigorously despite my condition’s impact on my joints. Slowly, I progressed to running a half marathon, finishing the race in 2:09, marking a turning point. I then went on to complete a full marathon in just over four hours.

Why is running important to you and how has it impacted your life?

Running has transformed my life. It  has changed the way I look after my body, the way I think, the way I live my life and my whole mentality. There’s nothing I can do to change my situation, but I can choose how I deal with things. For me, getting up and going out for a run will change my whole day.

Whenever I’m feeling negative or sad or stressed, I go out for a run, and I know that it will instantly make me feel better. I’ve now built a life and a career around my love for running – I’m a scholar athlete at my university, I have two running clubs and I have such a supportive network of people that I’ve met through running.

What motivates you to keep running and stay positive despite challenges?

Reflecting on my journey’s progress is what keeps me going. Looking back on how far I’ve come from not being able to walk three years ago to now being a marathon runner. I remember that my worst days now surpass my best days then. I live by the motto “It’s not about what’s happened to you, but how you deal with it”. Sport and running are my ways of dealing with life’s challenges.

How do you inspire others with chronic illnesses to take up running?

I aim to demonstrate that it is possible with determination. Find a way, not an excuse. The path you take may not be the standard path and it might take you longer, but believing in your goals is crucial. Running is mentally tough, and the first step is simply believing that you can do it. I want to inspire others through my story – if I can do it, so can anyone.

What’s your next challenge after Berlin?

My next goal is to qualify for the Boston Marathon at the Manchester Marathon next year. I also plan to participate in Cross Country Championships, and the ultimate goal is to complete all of the Major Marathons, hopefully ticking off Chicago or New York next year!

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