Belfast Marathon: Parkinson’s sufferer Niall Carson set for relay challenge

A County Antrim man with Parkinson’s, who says he is facing ‘a marathon wait’ for vital treatment, is set to take part in Monday’s Belfast City Marathon in a bid to raise awareness of his condition.

Niall Barton, who is 47 and from Newtownabbey, describes himself as ‘shattered’ at the end of each working day as a result of his condition.

The Barton family group at last year's Larne Half Marathon.

The Barton family group at last year's Larne Half Marathon.

However, the Carnmoney man is running a leg of the marathon to fundraise for Parkinson’s UK.

He will join four new teams, each completing the marathon and each assembled by his family and circle of friends, in an attempt to add to the over £11,000 they raised last year alone – including marathons and half-marathons in Belfast, Dublin and Larne.

“Parkinson’s is often associated with tremor but for me the most obvious symptoms are stiffness and anxiety,” Niall said.

“Worst of all, however, is the lack of sleep. I continue to work but I go in having had little sleep and by the time I get home in the evening I am shattered.”

Niall says lengthy waiting times for neurology appointments add to his difficulties, but he is determined to make a difference

“Finding a cure would be like winning the lottery – for me and for over 3,500 other people in NI affected by the condition.”

Niall hasn’t seen a consultant or a Parkinson’s specialist in a year and is unlikely to do so for another year. For him, every day is a marathon. Yet, it’s not all bad news.

“Over the past year my wife and numerous friends and family have been hit with the running bug – participating in running events locally such as the St Patrick’s Day Run and Titanic 10k proudly wearing Parkinson’s UK vests,” he said.

“I’ll stick with the flatter route as I’m concerned about my feet, but I was overwhelmed by the support over the past year that I’ve to play my part alongside them!”