Harpenden student goes from a double hip replacement to 10K run

Robert Cobb

Robert Cobb - Credit: Archant

A Harpenden student who has had both of his hips replaced before the age of 21 is embarking on a 10K charity run to raise funds and awareness for a crippling form of extreme arthritis.

Former Sir John Lawes pupil Robert Cobb, 20, who is currently studying psychology at Loughborough University, suffers from ankylosing spondylitis (AS), an inflammatory condition which targets the spine, hips, neck and other vital joints as well as the lungs and heart. If untreated, the condition can lead to eventual complete fusion of the spine.

Robert, from Saxon Close, explained: “There is no cure for AS and funding for research for a cure is only currently funded by fundraising from events such as the one that I am trying to promote.

“Difficulties with diagnosis as well as doctors not being fully aware of the condition also caused me to spend three years on crutches in excruciating pain before my surgery.

“My aim now is to help raise awareness of the condition as well as the charity that supports people who also suffer from ankylosing spondylitis - NASS (The National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society). I also hope to raise some much needed funds to help with research into the condition. NASS is a fantastic charity that does a lot of incredible work helping people that suffer from this unfortunate condition.”

Ankylosing spondylitis can develop at any time from teenage years onwards, although it usually occurs between 15 and 35 years of age and rarely starts in old age. It is around three times more common in men than in women, and it is not known what causes the condition, but there is thought to be a link with a particular gene.

The run is taking place at Eton College, Dorney Lake, Windsor on April 5, and Robert has been training throughout the winter in preparation.

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“I have found my training quite challenging, but I would say it is only slightly harder than I was expecting. I am in pain quite a lot of the time as I find that I have to train quite hard to get to the same level as everyone else, and this is on top of the normal pain I get with AS as well.

“It really is going to be a huge challenge for me to go from not even being able to walk or move properly without excruciating pain for three years to actually running a 10K, especially when you consider that I couldn’t even run when I first started training. It has been an incredibly hard and long journey to get to where I am now but I wanted to do it to prove to myself that I could, and also to raise awareness of AS and NASS and all the brilliant work they do helping people that also suffer from AS. And if I can help show others that anything is possible even when you suffer from a horrible condition like this, then that is even better.”

You can sponsor Robert at www.virginmoneygiving.com/robertcobb