Hi all, I’m Brian Murray, some of you know me and some won’t, but I am a full left leg amputee and I lost my leg to cancer when I was 11 years old.
It’s hard to believe that 15 months ago Cor, Nicola, Sarah Kidd, Sarah McWhirter and I were competing in the Meadows Half Marathon. This was my hardest challenge so far, with months of training on crutches and pushing myself to run longer distances on them. I could comfortably run 5k but a half marathon is just over 21k so I knew I had to push myself as hard as I could. The problem was that most of my training was during the winter months and frosty mornings are not ideal for training on crutches, so I had to find somewhere safer to train. Luckily, Annan Athletic kindly offered me the use of their all-weather football pitch so I started doing laps of the outside and I managed to get myself up to running 10k knowing that on the day I had to do double this distance. It was a bit of a worry, but I was determined I was going to do it as I didn’t want to let myself down or FYF by not managing to do it.
On the travel up to Edinburgh on the 1st March it had been snowing the night before and I was panicking because if there had been snow on the track, I wouldn’t be able to do it because my crutches would just slip on the snow. But as we got closer towards the Meadows, I could see it was clear so that was a big relief. I could feel the nerves kicking in at the starting line but once we set off, I felt at ease just moving along at my pace until over half way through I got cramp in my leg. I stretched it out and big thanks to Sarah Kidd who stuck with me all the way to the end. It was a massive relief to see that finish line. It was worth all the blisters on my hands and cramp that I had endured and I actually felt like bursting into tears with jubilation that I had actually managed to cross that finish line and hadn’t given up. I don’t have anything against people with 2 legs haha, but when I saw that some people hadn’t even finished the race, it made me feel even more proud that we had achieved it.
And then a couple of weeks later a pandemic hit that changed the world all over and all the talk was about COVID-19 (the silent killer that took so many lives). It has been a tough 15 months for everyone with lockdowns and not being able to meet family and friends but hopefully we are beginning to see a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
2020 was supposed to be an amazing year for us, first of all was the half marathon, then we were supposed to be going away for a weekend in May with all the family to celebrate a special birthday in Valerie’s life followed by my daughter’s wedding in July.
Leigh-Ann and Joe’s wedding was reorganised for the 27th December 2020 and then another lockdown was announced for the 26th December meaning it was going to be cancelled again. But luckily the hotel where she was getting married said she could move it to the 23rd December meaning they had 4 days to change everything but they managed and I had one of the proudest days of my life walking her down the aisle.
Then in September I was hoping to captain Scotland at the Euros in Poland at amputee football. The Euros were a big disappointment as I was so looking forward to walking onto the pitches with my teammates and be able to say that I captained Scotland at a major tournament. They are being moved to September 2021, but because we have only been able to train once since March 2020, Scotland has had to pull out of the tournament which was a sickener for me as this could have been my last chance to play in a major tournament. I’m not getting any younger, so I felt pretty low after we got the news about this. I will just need to try and keep myself fit and hopefully I can still play for a few years yet.
The new normal became doing online fitness classes through FYF and run by the amazing Lynn and Stuart. These were especially good for myself and Valerie as they kept us motivated and in shape. I also started doing runs/walks round the village where I live on my crutches which was quite a big thing for me. I don’t know why but I suffer from a bit of anxiety with people from my village seeing me with only 1 leg. It’s silly really because I have now travelled all over playing amputee football and most of the time went to these places on my crutches with no prosthetic leg but somehow people seeing me that I know causes me a bit of anxiety. I know it is something I need to get over but this is a journey I have to overcome in my own head.