A GOLD medallist who has battled through a string of medical nightmares is facing an agonising wait to discover if a narrowing spinal column will shatter her running dreams.
Alexia Hamilton-Morris has pledged to carry on going in spite of a pending MRI scan this month.
Her worst fear is that doctors will tell her she has to give up running – a sport she describes as her “anti-depressant”.
Preparing for a triathalon in Lanzarote, Alexia has a clutch of titles despite having surgery to reroute her oesophagus because she has a miss-shaped stomach.
The 49-year-old has also had treatment for a spinal condition called spondylolisthesis (slippage of the vertebrae), and a broken collar bone in a car accident.
While riding bikes she has broken an ankle and shoulder blade, and she is now awaiting an MRI scan to investigate a severe narrowing of the spinal column.
She also has to have regular iron injections to counter digestive problems.
And just when she thought it couldn’t get any worse, Alexia, from Minera, Wrexham, has been told she has a congenital abnormality with her mouth that requires treatment.
But that doesn’t stop her from working out at her local Total Fitness gym in Wrexham every day. That involves a mind-boggling regime of body pump, treadmill and spin sessions.
“Exercise, especially running, is my anti-depressant,” she said. “It keeps me sane, and at Total Fitness it’s not all work, work – it’s a social thing too.”
Over the years she has had a lot to feel down about. After moving from the east coast of England to North Wales after losing her brother, who was killed by a drunk driver, Alexia nursed both her aged parents through illnesses and watched them die. It acted as the catalyst for her amazing running career.
“At school I wasn’t particularly sporty. But in 2001, after my father died and I was feeling low, a friend suggested I join Wrexham Athletics.
“Unfortunately just after that I had my car accident, when I broke my collarbone.”
That knockback didn’t put her off, and on her return Alexia won the Stockton Heath 10k – after that her running career really took off. “Over the next couple of years I won all the North Wales championship races,” she said.
In 2003 she was rewarded for her consistent success when became North Wales Road Runner of the Year. She won it again in 2005, when she also won individual silver at the British Masters relay for the second fastest lap of the day.
But in spite of her ability and determination, the veteran athlete could be on the verge of quitting the sport she loves.
“I may have to switch to cycling if the scan shows I do have a narrowing of the spinal column. I’ve been on painkillers with my back since 1995, which takes the edge off the discomfort. My doctor is amazed I can run at all.”
Alexia will be battling through the pain barrier in her next big race, the final Border League event on April 29 in Wrexham.