Ex-rugby star who learned how to walk again completes 52-week marathon challenge

Doddie Weir congratulates Phil on his achievement
Doddie Weir congratulates Phil on his achievement
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An ex-rugby player who was cured by a Chinese herbal remedy after his arthritis left him using a Zimmer frame has completed a remarkable marathon a week in 2018 for charity.

Phil Calvert was on top of his game at 25, playing alongside Gavin and Scott Hastings for Watsonians when he woke up unable to move his hips or knees. The tighthead prop was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis – putting an end to his promising rugby career.

He was at the lowest point of his life on walking sticks and a Zimmer frame when a Chinese medical expert vowed to have him walking unaided again in six months with a herbal treatment Phil described as “bark”. And having mixed with water and drank for six months, Phil was remarkably walking unaided again.

The now 48-year-old has built himself back up to fitness and is now a personal trainer and a master trainer at Life Fitness.

At the start of the year he vowed to run the equivalent of 52 marathons in 52 weeks. To achieve this goal he has ran in Finland, Germany, Majorca, Ireland, England, Florida and the Shetland Islands, as well as in and around Edinburgh and the Lothians.

Phil was joined by around 40 friends and family members in a final lap of Arthur’s Seat yesterday to draw an end to his year of fundraising for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation, the charity set up by former Scotland and Lions lock Doddie Weir, who suffers from motor neurone disease.

And it was even more special for the Cousland resident at the finish line when Doddie himself was there to congratulate him on his impressive venture.

Phil has ran an incredible 43.4km each of the past 52 weeks, spending a total of 264 hours of running – or 11 full days – raising more than £5200 for charity.

Phil told the Evening News: “It’s been a tough year but I’m delighted to have completed this challenge. It has been eventful but I’ve enjoyed it so much. It has been a privilege to support the MND foundation, to do my bit and help raise awareness.

“I have more money due to come in so I will have passed my target, which is fantastic.

“I would never have seen myself doing anything like this all those years ago. It got a little emotional at the end and getting to see Doddie and speak with him was great. I’ve lost two and a half stone and feel so much healthier now. With what I’ve been through I’ve learned don’t put off today for tomorrow because you have no idea what is coming tomorrow.”

Phil is now wanting to continue his 52 weeks legacy by introducing #Your5252, encouraging others to take 52 minutes per week for 52 weeks of the year to do something that promotes their physical and mental wellbeing, whether it’s relaxing, exercising or helping others.

You can still support Phil by donating online at https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/5252mndoddie5