One More Tri: Sam Perkins
Triathlete Sam Perkins will attempt to cross the finish line one more time at Outlaw Half Nottingham on May 15. The 40-year-old triathlete from nearby East Leake was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2019 and is restricted to a wheelchair and relies on a ventilator to breathe.
Sam’s original aim was to tackle the event in 2020. The plan was to be towed in a boat through the 1.2mile swim and pushed through the 56mile bike leg and 13.1mile run.
As the pandemic forced a delay, Sam’s condition progressed and for safety reasons the revised attempt will feature close friends and family taking part in a relay format before handing over to Sam and supporters for the run leg.
They will complete five-laps around the Regatta Lake at the National Watersports Centre. Support runners, including a couple of ex Nottingham Forest players and Outlaw regular, David Manning-Ohren, will share pushing duties.
Funds are being raised for Stand Against Motor Neurone Disease, the charity Sam started with wife Emma shortly after receiving his MND diagnosis. The charity funds research into eventually finding a cure for the disease and has raised more than £75,000 to date.
Sam says: “When I heard the figure being put into research and development, I thought it was pitiful. It’s thought of as being this rare disease, but to put it bluntly, that’s only because people die so quickly.
“We started our own charity because we wanted the money from people who donated in my name to go to research. We were lucky enough to visit a lab in Nottingham last week and meet a PhD student doing research with funds that we’ve raised.”
Getting into triathlon changed Sam’s life for the better. He says: “In my 20s I was more interested in going to the pub. I was a smoker, weighed about 18 stone and wasn’t particularly fit. But it was the sense of achievement when I crossed that finish line.”
He added: “I just wanted to do it again and again, and by the end of the first year I’d completed seven or eight sprint triathlons and lost about 5 ½stone.”
Sam would go on to complete more than 40 triathlons including Outlaw Nottingham in in 2016.
The diagnosis for MND came after suffering sustained breathing issues, which eventually led to pneumonia. He was placed on a ventilator and within months had lost the ability to walk and was struggling to use his hands.
He explains: “I don’t think I fully comprehended the enormity of the diagnosis and how few options there were. The disease will do what it’s going to do, and I’ll just have to cope. So, as soon as I got the opportunity, I wanted to be part of a triathlon again.”
Sam adds: “This event, is my ambition to take part just one more time. To be on the course and encourage others as they run past, to see my old tri club running the feed station at the top of the lake. Just to be in that environment.”
“I am almost certain I will cry, and for a myriad of reasons: to do something that I thought had been unexpectedly taken away from me again, something that had given me so much self-worth, and something that I always look back on as one of my biggest achievements. It’s going to be a big day.”
Sam is raising money for Stand Against MND (or SAM for short). You can find out more about the charity and donate to the challenge at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/onemoretri