From ‘you’ll never walk again’ to marathon runner in 10 years

Jason Le Masurier began to run as ‘a privilege’ after recovering from a kitesurfing accident

In January 2007 Jason Le Masurier was kitesurfing on Blackpool beach when tragedy struck, leaving him paralysed down his left side.

At the time, he was told he would never stand again.

This Sunday he will run the SSE Airtricity Dublin City Marathon.

Le Masurier remembers the day of his accident well. A gust of wind lifted him and his kite into the air before he had a chance to enter the water, dropping him on his head on the hard sand below. “If I had been in the water, it probably wouldn’t have been as bad,” he says.

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Twenty months and nine operations later, the former university lecturer left hospital in a wheelchair, having been told that he would need 24-hour care for the rest of his life and would see no further improvement.

To everyone's surprise, in August 2009, not even a year after leaving hospital, he not only walked but jogged down the aisle at his wedding. He and his bride Liz were featured ion The Irish Times wedding supplementpage that year.

Before his accident, Le Masurier had never been a runner. “I always thought I couldn’t run. It was only after I learned to walk again that I realised what a privilege it was, and I thought I’d give it a go.”

In April 2014, following several years of intense physiotherapy, Le Masurier and Liz participated in the Skipton Triathlon together, raising more than £1,000 for the North West Air Ambulance, whom he credits with saving his life. "Their slogan is 'We wouldn't be here without you', but I wouldn't be here without them." He was airlifted to hospital within 40 minutes of his accident.

Air ambulances

Since then Le Masurier has followed the Hal Higdon training programme. He began with a half-marathon, and this weekend will run his first full marathon, this time raising funds for the Irish Community Air Ambulance.

"I want to see air ambulances available to everyone," he says. He believes that there have been many occasions in recent years in Donegal – where he, his wife and their son now reside – where lives could have been saved had an air ambulance been available.

He cites the case of Maura Porter, a woman from Carndonagh who died in 2014, as an example of someone who may have been saved if she had been taken to hospital by air ambulance. Ms Porter waited almost an hour before an ambulance arrived to transport her to hospital.

Le Masurier and his wife are now the directors of Park Run in Buncrana. Park Run is an international organisation that holds community-based runs all over the world on Saturdays at 9am. "It's more a social thing; you can walk or run."

Although he is very active again, he has no plans to return to kitesurfing, as he never wants to put his family through a similar experience again.

“No, no way, never again. The worst thing for me is what my family had to go through, especially Liz. For her, and my family, that’s why I’m doing this.”