Wednesday 18th October 2017
Many of the Great South Run runners have their own stories of overcoming adversity to get fit enough to take on the fast and flat 10 miler through historic Portsmouth. None more so than Tom Harris, 23, from Dummer in Hampshire who is recovering from a head injury caused by falling down a slope when on holiday and being in an induced coma just weeks ago.
Tom and 3 friends - Louis Telford, Stuart Bishop and Jack Clark - went on holiday together to Slovenia in August. Tom got separated from the group on the last night, slipped and fell down a 3-metre slope, hitting his head badly on a verge as he fell.
Louis contacted Tom’s parents, Leroy and Louise Harris, to give them the news. They got on the next available flight to Slovenia to see Tom, who had been rushed to hospital in the capital city, Ljubljana, where he was put in an induced coma for 3 weeks.
Tom's friends and family suspected the worst and were incredibly worried. They set up a crowd funding page to raise nearly £9,000 to help with the cost of Tom's treatment and the cost of a private plane to take him to Southampton General Hospital. He was later transferred to Basingstoke Hospital before being discharged a week later, on 15 September.
The nursing staff at Basingstoke said Tom's recovery after his near-fatal accident was so remarkable that they called it a miracle. He is now expected to make a full recovery.
Following Tom's experience, many of his friends and family signed up to do the Great South Run with him, a race he had always intended to take part in before his accident. They are raising money for Headway, following Tom's head injury, and Teenage Cancer Trust, in memory of Tom's friend Sam Hooker.
I was originally going to run the Great South Run as I was getting back into running and my Dad registered us both. After losing my close friend Sam last year to Leukaemia, there was only one charity I could raise money for. Unfortunately I will not be able to run on the day but I will be walking instead. I have been going on walks to prepare for it, but I will also have a wheelchair in case I get tired.
Tom with Sam Hooker
Cheering Tom and all the Teenage Cancer Trust runners on were the noisest and most vibrant cheering squads in the course! Manned by staff and volunteers, our enthusiastic cheering squads made a huge difference to the runners on the day, helping them to keep going and push themselves to that finish line.
This year, we had not one but two ukulele bands joining our cheer points! The Pompey Pluckers and Southampton Ukulele Jam played tunes and provided a fantastic atmosphere for the runners and their friends and family lining the course. We had two cheer points on this course this year, making lots of noise to support our amazing runners. They were based near mile 1 of the race route, close to Pier Road roundabout, and at the midway point just past mile 5, near the Pier Road/Southsea Terrace junction.