Kirk's joy as his back problems are behind him

Former English Schools' Cross-Country champion Kirk Wilson may have finished down the field in the Blaydon Race, but he was as happy as anyone after returning to action after injury saw him sidelined for three years.

Former English Schools' Cross-Country champion Kirk Wilson may have finished down the field in the Blaydon Race, but he was as happy as anyone after returning to action after injury saw him sidelined for three years.

As a teenager, Wilson was one of the country's leading endurance runners, winning national medals not only over the country but on the track as well.

Unfortunately, for the past three years the Morpeth Harrier has had to twiddle his thumbs as an undiagnosed back problem put paid to any progress. Now, however, the 21-year-old looks to be on the road to recovery, thanks to the help of local physio Nick Clunies-Ross.

"The problems all started in 2004 after I won the Blyth Valley 10," said Wilson, a law student at Northumbria University.

"I'd never ran a 10 before and I finished up with a load of blisters, and after a week of no running my legs, especially my left, became extremely sore.

"The pain then moved up to my back which meant my expected one-week break extended into months.

"A number of people tried to pin-point the problem but to no avail, so by this time I was getting a bit annoyed and bitter.

"I was existing on pain killers day-to-day, and I tried desperately to get help from UK Athletics, but they weren't interested because I wasn't a lottery-funded or elite squad athlete. So the weeks of inactivity turned into months and then into years.

"But thankfully there's now light at the end of the tunnel and it's all down to Nick.

"His practice is only a couple of minutes from our house in Cramlington - and why I didn't go to see him much earlier I'll never know.

"When I walked in I'm sure he thought I was a disaster case, but within minutes he identified the problem and after a couple of treatments he had me jogging again.

"Nick also set out a course of exercises, and it's unbelievable how things have moved on.

"I couldn't believe it really.

"There were times I was really on the bottom and thought I would never run competitively again.

"This all happened less than three months ago, when I was ecstatic because I was managing to go for a run every other day.

"That gave me the incentive to target the Blaydon, and though I didn't set the world alight to finish 38th, it was as good as I could have expected.

"Now, with that race behind me, I can now focus on getting myself in reasonable shape and, hopefully, try to make up some lost ground."

As well as winning the English Schools' Cross-Country title, Wilson was also a winner of the Junior Great North Run, while his schools' exploits brought him two international vests.

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