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Paralyzed four years ago, Robert MacDonald runs first marathon

Less than four years after falling from a three-storey balcony and having a five per cent chance of walking again, Robert MacDonald completed his first marathon.

Robert MacDonald

Less than four years after being told he would have a five per cent chance of walking again, Robert MacDonald completed his first marathon on Sunday.

MacDonald, as part of Team I Will, finished the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon on Oct. 16. The milestone comes after he had to relearn to walk in January 2013, one month after breaking nine vertebrae and suffering 11 broken ribs and a punctured lung. His injuries were sustained falling off a hotel patio in Mexico. He was rushed to hospital in Toronto and did not have feeling below his waist.

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“I’ve come a long way in just under four years,” MacDonald said after the race. “To do this today, it means a lot for me and for Toronto Rehab and everyone who was here to support me.”

On Sunday, he completed the marathon in 5:59:14 as part of Team I Will, which MacDonald says has grown to 127 members. MacDonald ran the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Half-Marathon in 2015 and doubled up that distance for the 2016 edition of the race.

In January 2013, one month after the accident, MacDonald began the process of learning how to walk again and rebuilding lower body strength. He lost 35 lbs during the first month of recovery, mostly muscle mass. MacDonald’s friend told him that the two of them would run a marathon one day. Friend Eric Humes finished the Toronto Waterfront Marathon with MacDonald on Sunday.

MacDonald was part of the event’s charity challenge and he had hoped to raise $42,000 – one dollar for each stride he takes during the 42.2K route – for the Toronto Rehab Centre. MacDonald’s motto is “I will.”

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See an earlier Canadian Running feature on MacDonald here. Canadian Running also got a chance to catch up with MacDonald after completing his first marathon with that video being viewable at the top of this page.