Greg Grace – Running With Parkinson’s Disease and For the Cure

As a USATF certified 5K, the Carnegie Center 5K attracts serious and not so serious runners, to raise funds for Parkinson’s research. What many participants don’t realize is that a number of our runners are people living with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Research has shown that exercise can slow the progression of PD. We are grateful to Greg Grace, Team Captain of the Bucks County Roadrunners team for sharing his experience of running with PD and for the cure of this disease.

Helaine Isaacs
Event Director

The Parkinson Alliance

On a whim, I ran my first road race in October, 1986. It was a 10K and I finished in 50:37. From that beginning grew a love affair with running that continues today, spanning more than 750 races.  

I used to be rather fast, although I didn’t think so at the time. I ran my fastest 5Ks in under 20 minutes and ran a marathon in 3:17. I qualifed for and ran the Boston Marathon several times and served as president of the Bucks County Roadrunners for four years. I loved running and had a large circle of running friends.

In early 2005, my legs began to ache and my times were slowing down. I noticed that my lower right leg was shaking on a regular basis and I was having trouble using a computer keyboard. I began to seek medical opinions. At first I was told it was Lyme disease, but that proved inaccurate. Finally, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). I don’t think I believed it at the time, but it soon became more apparent. My mother, who was alive at that time, also had PD, so I would compare my symptoms to hers and took strength in the way she dealt with them and endured.

Although I was forced to retire from my job due to my loss of dexterity on the computer, I vowed to continue running until I came in last. My mileage decreased as my times increased. But I still raced. In the last year running has become very difficult, because the medication I must take to run also makes my leg periodically twist in a painful way that makes it nearly impossible to walk much less run. But I will be out there on September 28th, running my seventh Carnegie Center 5K to raise funds for Parkinson’s research. Hopefully, a cure will be found and it will no longer be necessary to have a race for this cause. Either way, I will still be running.

Greg Grace
Team Captain, Bucks County Road Runners