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Ireland’s Blade Runner


Pressure now mounts as we draw closer and closer to that start line in Dublin. The intensity has peaked within the training camp and nerves are now high After almost 9 months of training below the knee amputee Simon Baker is on the road to completing the Dublin Marathon in an excellent time. We have encountered only a bare minimal amount of injury which in itself is a success and a credit to both Simon and his team.

 Simon has completed several half marathons and fun runs as part of his stepping stone towards the greater goal. Rick Ball Canadian Amputee marathon record holder has said that it took him several years to build up to running at this level and that it took nearly 12 months alone to just get used to the new blade and all it’s a adjustments.
With the multi-disciplinary team based out of the University arena, Simon has had the opportunity to call on and make use of their knowledge and expertise when needed. This project is one of a kind as research is now being gathered to be used for further studies and projects, such as the hope of the Team to select and sponsor a paralympian for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janiero. With the Aid of the Biomechanics department and the Physiology departments in the University of Limerick all the new base line data has been correlated and is constantly being used as a measure of results. These results also aid his Trainer Jason Kenny in identifying areas of weaknesses which under normal circumstances only raise their head once an issue arises. The whole approach to training has been a pre-habilitation as opposed to rehabilitation. Although at times the body is feeling good and the temptation to over tax it can happen, it’s become a major responsibility of the team to hold Simon back. This has helped prevent any major problems from happening.
Simon has become an incredible athlete and is living and breathing this enormous challenge. As it has been pointed out before Simon never ran before he lost his leg and it wouldn’t have been something he’d have done thereafter. He was an average gym goer and smoked regularly. The one thing Simon did have going for him was that he was always up for a challenge and once committed to something would never give up without giving it 100%
Simon’s regime will include Sports Massage twice a week with expert Orla Smyth, Aqua sessions in the University Arena of Limerick 50 metre pool set out by Alan Ward, Road sessions, Gym work incorporating muscle development, core work and flexibility by Jason Kenny, and every month and half into the Biomechanics and Physiology labs for testing with Ian Kenny, Drew Harrison and Neasa Canavan. Simon’s week is planned out and he has been monitoring his diet and making sure to keep the body strong and fuelled to allow him to continue with such intense training. Simon has also had the fortune of having IDS/Otto Bock on board to sponsor him his running blade. He has a a team on hand there 24/7 headed up by Jans Ottoson and Donna Fisher, he is up and down to Cappagh in Dublin regularly to fine tune and He has been lucky to get sponsored his supplements by USN Ireland, who are on hand to provide him with the gels, proteins and electrolyte recovery drinks that he needs, in repairing the body.

As project manager and Trainer I have found each session, one that needs to be worked out and measured accurately and not something that you can just piece together there and then. Great care is given in getting the most from his body and developing exercises and regimes around Simon and his abilities to produce the desired results. It comes with great frustration at times as the goal post keep changing, so you are constantly wearing your thinking cap and need to make sure that each muscle group is firing up and symmetry is apparent in the body. As a result, sessions such as the ones in the Altitude Chamber in Delta Sports dome, has been very beneficial in training and recognising Lactate thresholds. Darragh Droog and Andrew ‘O Neill have been kind enough to assist me in Simon’s sessions there and have been hugely beneficial.
Simon will work through pain thresholds which even though is at times an asset can too be detrimental , as Simon hates to complain or be seen to complain as he is more than grateful to have the availability of this expert team around him and doesn’t want to leave anyone down. So you need to constantly remind him to check in and confirm that he is really ok.
On a whole this project has been and amazing learning curve for both myself and all involved and we are excited at what is in store for the future projects and at the excitement of the Dublin Marathon as he crosses over that finish line.