MS sufferer takes on Arch to Arc endurance challenge

Dean Riley will be the first man in the world with MS to compete in the Arch to Arc event. Picture: Neil Hanna

Dean Riley will be the first man in the world with MS to compete in the Arch to Arc event. Picture: Neil Hanna

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HE was devastated after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis four years ago.

But Dean Reilly has not let that stop him from living his life as he prepares to become the first MS sufferer in the world to complete the Arch to Arc endurance challenge.

The 35-year-old, from Newcraighall, will run 90 miles from the Marble Arch in London to the Dover coast, row 20 miles to Calais, and then undertake a 180-mile cycle to the Arc De Triomphe in Paris – all in just a few days.

The plucky father, who has participated in a series of fundraising activities since he was diagnosed, said he “wasn’t that nervous” about the challenge, but he knows it will be tough.

MS is a lifelong condition that affects the central nervous system, which comprises the brain and spinal cord.

It affects different people in different ways and, in any one individual, the symptoms can vary from day to day.

Dean, who was recently invited to London by the Prime Minister in recognition of his fundraising efforts, said: “I don’t know where I get the determination from.

“When I first found out I had MS it was terrifying. I used to wonder how I would be able to work and how I could have a girlfriend.

“But then I just decided to get a grip because I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it.

“It just does what it wants to your body so I decided I’m going to make memories while I can.”

Dean, who works part-time for Nike, is also preparing to run the London Marathon in two weeks, followed by the Edinburgh Marathon.

He believes that, after taking part in these activities, he will be well prepared for Arch to Arc in August.

“I always tend to do better on the actual race days than in training,” he said. “I feel more focused because I know exactly what I need to do and it gets done.

“While I’m doing these challenges I just keep telling myself that it’s not going to be forever. Whatever physical 
complications arise in the future I will deal with them, but at the moment I am enjoying fundraising.”

All proceeds raised from Dean’s challenge will be donated to the MS Society Scotland.

He said: “I’ve had some horrible times with MS. Over the past few weeks it’s been quite tough because I’ve had some flare-ups, but I’ve tried not to let it set me back.

“I’m a big unit, I don’t have the body of an athlete, but I know I have the mindset to complete the Arch to Arc 
challenge.”

A spokesman for MS Society Scotland said: “We are delighted that Dean has chosen to support us in his Arch to Arc Challenge. We wish him all the best for his training and we are very grateful to have Dean as a fundraiser and a supporter of MS Society Scotland.

“Without our fundraisers we wouldn’t be able to carry out vital research and offer support and information to people living with MS.”

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk