By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Saturday’s Virgin Gorda 6 Miles Challenge, run in conjunction with the 6th Virgin Gorda Half Marathon, had different meaning to different individuals ranging from 7 to 74 years.
For Virgin Islands Search And Rescue (VISAR) lead medic and helm Paul Hubbard, it was a new chapter being written, after he crossed the finish line in 2 hours and 02 minutes and 18 seconds.
It wasn’t about the time for the ex Marathoner, who had run the 26.2 miles six times before, along with several Half Marathons. It was a major accomplishment because as recently as six months ago, Hubbard was wheelchair bound.
“I had an accident, a big fall from about 20 feet. I broke both my heel bones, I broke my pelvis, broke five vertebrae in my back and completely shattered my wrist,” Hubbard recalled. “I was just after the Virgin Gorda Half Marathon last year which I ran and two days later I had the accident, (on Virgin Gorda) so it’s almost a year to the day and I’ve just completed walking the 6 Mile Challenge. To do it with my friends, with Team VISAR, people that helped me and my wife after the accident, is just an incredible feeling.”
For Hubbard, it was a very special accomplishment in his recovery. He said there was a time last year when they didn’t think he’d walk again.
“To do a race like this, we walked it and we had fun; we enjoyed it; we enjoyed the views’ we enjoyed the people of Virgin Gorda, the water stops, the camaraderie, it’s special,” he said. “Thinking that six months ago I was in a wheelchair and for me to be able to walk six miles, is huge.”
Hubbard added: “It’s taken a lot of hard work to get here. A lot of guts and determination, a lot of help from people, people in the medical profession obviously, both here and in Panama where I had emergency surgery last year. I’ve had help from physical therapists, yoga instructors, Pilates, gyrokinesis—all these little things that helped to get me and my body back to where I was—but ultimately, I think a lot of this is in the mind. If you believe it, you can do it. Obviously physical things stop you doing things, but, if your body is capable of doing it and your mind can push you, I think anyone can do it.”
He said not knowing if he’d ever run again as recently as six months ago and although he’s not running as yet, he ran 10-15m to the finish on Saturday and finished with his team, but he never though he’d be in anything competitive.
“I’ve done a bit of swimming, a bit of cycling since the accident but, this is the first time I’m competing an event on the road,” he noted. “Running was my thing so for me to be even walking competitively, is massive.”
Hubbard has completed six Marathons including New York City twice, Belfast, Chicago, Detroit and Key West Marathons and have completed in 20 Half Marathons. He competed in the Blenheim Trust 5K Series and the Ceres Juices 10K Series on Tortola and won his age group in 2015.
“I miss it and want to get back,” he said. “My wife is a physical therapist and she said I better take things steady, obviously. I don’t believe I’ll run as well as I used to, even though I’m recovering and have a long way to go, I don’t think my body will be 100% like it was once upon a time. So yes, I miss it. I miss crossing the finishing line. I miss racing against people, seeing somebody ahead of me, thinking can I beat them; hearing and feeling somebody behind me, pushing and pushing me, I miss it massively.”