Veteran Alberta marathoner bounces back from serious setback to bring kids joy

He’s known as the “Marathon Man” in the town of Cochrane, Alta., but a stroke almost sidelined Martin Parnell for good in February 2015.

After some rehab and deep determination now he is back on track with another project to help kids live better lives.

Parnell’s runs and other athletic events for charity have raised $1.3 million for the Right to Play organization, which provides funding for children in Canada and several other countries to participate in dozens of different sports.

That came to an end with Parnell’s stroke, which put him in hospital for two weeks. At the time he was advised by doctors not to even walk more than a kilometre for a couple of months.

“Normally I’m the one who picks my challenges,” he said, “but this time the challenge picked me.”

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He’s now regained his strength to the point where he’s going to attempt his first marathon since the stroke.

Martin Parnell is ready to race again after suffering a stroke in February 2015. Gil Tucker

Parnell and other runners are setting off for a run in Cochrane this Thursday, New Year’s Eve, to raise money for a playground in a village in Tanzania.

Parnell visited the village while in the African country to climb Mount Kilamanjaro for charity.

“In Cochrane we have 29 playgrounds,” he said. “But in that village, the closest playground is 130 kilometres away, so it’s going to be huge for them.”

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